A jury of 12 with 2 alternates was seated by 2:30 PM today. Jurors were questioned in groups of three yesterday and today. After the first 2 or 3 groups, the process is about as repetitive as watching a traffic light, Red comes after Yellow every damned time. Prosecutor Ebert used an analogy explaining the nature of circumstantial evidence which may come back to haunt him. As he put it. ‘If you go to bed and the ground is bare, and when you wake up it is covered with snow, you may not have seen it snow, but you know it has occurred.’
Seating a jury did not prove all that difficult. Several potential jurors were dismissed for cause, such as having a spouse who was an auxiliary policeman or stating that they would believe a defendant who did not take the stand to be guilty. I suspect some simply did to want to serve and knew how to answer to be stricken.
After the jury was seated, they were taken out of the room so judge Arrington could consider motions. First was the request of the defense to enter into evidence a map of the Portlock area showing the sites of violent crimes over the last year, as support of his contention that Frederick was justified in suspecting a home invasion. The prosecution objected claiming there was no proof Frederick knew of each of those crimes. As though someone living in South Norfolk would have to know of every single crime to be aware that South Norfolk is not typical of much f the rest of Chesapeake. Judge Arrington took the matter under advisement to rule later when the evidence would be timely.
The Defense also wanted to show a video of Frederick’s appearance at the time of the raid. Frederick has gained about 70 pounds during his incarceration and the defense wanted jurors to see him as he was (about 100 lbs.) and dressed in pajamas. The video was shown later during Brocoletti’s opening.
Prosecutor James Willet then made his opening statement. I have to say he spins a pretty good yarn. If his opening was all I had to go on, I’d convict Frederick myself. He started out tugging at the jury’s heartstrings about the tragedy of Det. Shivers death and the heartbreak of his family. No one could argue that, but it has little to do with the issues of the case.
Then he painted Frederick as a drug crazed monster bent on mindless killing. I had not been aware that was a characteristic of marijuana users. Then he turned to the necessity of using felons as informants in drug cases and the necessity of trusting their testimony.
He went on to describe how the police carefully planned how to serve the warrant and of the necessity of serving it with overwhelming force because they knew Frederick’s home had been burglarized and he would be wary.
Seriously, he actually said that knowing of the burglary and that Frederick would be nervous as a result was a central issue in their planning.
He also admitted that they knew there was no evidence in the house that could be destroyed so they could take their time. He went on to explain the police arrived in two vehicles, and that they all were wearing uniforms with POLICE plainly displayed. He described the Det. Kylie Roberts announcing their presence and asserted that Frederick had to have known they were there and caught unaware, reacted in a drug crazed rage.
Further, he claimed after the arrest, Frederick had bragged of his deeds to other inmates.
As I said, it was an impressive performance. It was also a pack of lies, soon to be exposed.
Immediately after he finished, defense attorney Brocoletti asked to have the jury removed and demanded that a video showing an interview immediately after the arrest in which the interviewing detective observed that Frederick did not appear to be under the influence and in which Frederick coherently denied being high.
More importantly, Broccoletti pointed out that the previous claims made by the prosecution a the hearing on suppressing the search warrant were inconsistent with Willets claim that that knowledge was central in the police planning of the raid. One way or the other, the prosecution has perpetrated a fraud on the court, either lying then or lying now. Broccoletti has asked for a mistrial and Judge Arrington will rule on that prior to the resumption of the trial tomorrow.
Even if he doesn’t get the mistrial, the issue of the suppression of the warrant should be reopened. Frederick did not report the burglary. The police admit they knew it had happened, but the prosecution now claims they knew of the burglary from Steven Wright, their informant, but that they did not know at the time he was one of the burglars. Of course, there was no other way for him to know the details of the burglary except to have been there. That would be the snow on the ground Ebert was talking about. Someone has some explaining to do. The possibilities are limited. Either the police lied to the prosecutors in their sworn statements, or one or the other of the prosecutors lied to the court.
Pending Judge Arrington’s ruling on these matters, Broccoletti made his opening statement. He acknowledged the tragedy of Det. Shiver’s death but explained that the issue was not how good a man Shivers was, but who was responsible for his death. He then took apart Willet’s case item by item.
First, he showed a photo of the actual van the police arrived in. It was a nondescript grey van with non-matching rims with no markings of any kind to indicate it was a police vehicle. He then showed photos of the clothing Det. Shivers was wearing when he was shot. This consisted of a pair of blue jeans, a black ‘hoodie’ jacked with a Quicksilver Logo occupying most of both arms and a khaki tactical vest with a small patch, about 2 x 4 inches with POLICE on it, the only emblem of any kind visible.
He then pointed out that Frederick was never given the opportunity to open the door and accept the warrant, that as soon as movement was seen, the door was breached, and that neighbors heard Frederick’s dog barking, and of the door being struck, but not the police announcement.
So, we are now to believe that Frederick knew the police were coming, and decided to lie in wait for them to fight it out with a heavily armed SWAT team with an underpowered handgun and only six rounds of ammunition, and no escape route available.
In his pajamas.
It is hard to imagine the prosecution retaining any credibility after that.
We can, put to rest a few lingering questions. Broccoletti admitted Frederick grew marijuana, but only for his own use and not for sale.
The mysterious bullet hole was explained. Frederick fired one shot at the arm he saw reaching through the broken out lower portion of his door, then retreated to his bedroom, that shot passed through the broken out opening and struck Det. Shivers in the front yard. In attempting to let down the hammer in the bedroom, Frederick accidentally fired the second shot which made the hole in his wall. That leaves no unaccounted for holes. So, the previously unexplained .223 casing found in the yard probably did fall from a policeman’s gear as they claimed.
I will be back tomorrow and Friday as evidence is introduced and will report again tomorrow night.