Ryan Frederick Trial, Day 9

I will post JohnWilburn’s detailed account as soon as I receive it, in whole or in part.

(NOTE: the remainder of John’s report was added at about 8 AM  Saturday morning.)

I was able to attend the afternoon session and, to kill some time and hopefully enlighten, I will post some comments and observations while I wait.

I had hoped that the closing statements would come today, but that did not happen, largely thanks to Prosecutor Ebert’s unending search for do-overs and Prosecutor Conway’s deep and abiding love for the sound of his own voice.

The first afternoon defense witness was Glenda Frye, a Portsmouth Public Defender who finished the process of totally discrediting Jamal Skeeter as a constant purveyor of false testimony in hopes of reducing his jail sentence. She produced a letter from Skeeter in which he responded to her informing him that the Portsmouth Court no longer had jurisdiction over him and could not reduce his sentence in return for testimony by writing he would none the less never give up trying.

Deputy Commonwealths Attorney Ed Ferreira reiterated Ms Frye’s testimony.

The defense rested and rebuttal began.

Ebert recalled Lori (sp?) McReynolds to bring out that Frederick had told her of the burglary but later told her her property was not in danger because he had figured out who had broken into his place and she was not a target, thus establishing something we already knew.

In her first really big judicial error, in my opinion, Arrington allowed new testimony (which is not supposed to be allowed in rebuttal) from Arron Curley, one of the burglars. Instead of corroborating the testimony of Steven Wright, Ebert elicited new statements of threats supposedly made by Frederick   toward the police in a conversation overheard on Turnbull’s cell phone. Later, Broccoletti produced phone records showing Curley lied about the number of calls received by Turnbull from Fredrick’s number.

Ebert continued his effort for a do-over in rebuttal by trying to introduce yet another jailhouse snitch, which thankfully, Arrington did not allow, else we would have been burdened by an endless cycle of snitch followed by their exposure as a liar, then another snitch, and exposure, until every inmate in the Chesapeake jail had his 15 minutes of fame.

(Have you noticed I have about had it with Ebert?)

Det. Michael Baronne returned to the stand to repeat his testimony and to attempt to deny that Frederick could have seen what he said he did. This was the most interesting testimony of the day to me because it illustrates something I have referred to before, that being how basically honest people can say things that are not true and not even realize it. People often confuse what they believe with what they know.

Since its my blog and I have the time, I will editorialize on that a bit.

Many years ago, I read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land of a fictional profession of a Fair Witness a supposedly unimpeachable witness who was trained in observation and memory. In demonstrating the skill of a Fair Witness, her employer asks her of the color of a nearby house, and she answers "It’s white on this side." refusing to assume the sides she cannot see at that moment are also white. She was familiar with the house, had seen the other sides, which were white the last time she saw them, but she would not assume they had not since been painted. If all witnesses were this careful in their testimony, the task of juries would be quite simple. But in our real world, people lie and embellish, as Curley did in his testimony, but basically honest people like Det. Baronne mistake what they believe to be true with things they actually know or saw.

Baronne, in his attempt to breach the door, knocked out the lower right panel (the top of which is about armpit high on me, Baronne is somewhat taller) and immediately drew the ramback for another stroke, which he said he would have delivered in less than two seconds, but did not because Frederick’s shot came in only a second of the striking of the panel. When asked by the prosecutor if anyone, especially Det. Shivers had moved toward the door or bent down to look through, he answered that no one had done so.

He could not possibly have known that. His back was to Shivers, his attention was on the target, and when preparing to withdraw the ram and strike again in less than two seconds, he could not have turned and checked on Shiver’s position. He assumed it to be true, and reported it as so, but he could not have seen it.

I’m sure people he trusts have told him it was so, he has seen the reenactment in which the Shiver’s stand-in did not move, but he could not have seen it himself on that night.

This is why last night I wrote that both the police and Frederick could be telling the truth about that night AS THEY SAW IT. I believe Det. Baronne to be an honest man, yet he testified to something thatcannot be so.

People can fool themselves, and can assume things that are not true, and not know it. So, the jury has a job to do. To apply common sense and their own observation to reconcile these inevitable differences in how people remember and see things from their point of view.

The lesson for us?

That not every little inconsistency amounts to an intentional lie.

And that good liars can be amazingly consistent.

And that really good liars can inject just the right mount of inconsistency to make themselves look truthful.

Hopefully, the jury will be able to find the truth amidst all that.


122 Responses to Ryan Frederick Trial, Day 9

  1. Opinions says:

    Is it safe to believe that when Det. Barone reloaded to hit the door he did hit anyone behind him with the ram. He would know if someone was in his way or was restricting his movement. For that matter he would have been able to if some one had advanced past his position. Everyone has a theory. RF meant to kill someone, could have been his girlfriend getting robbed outside the house. He would have never known because he grabbed his gun after hearing just a normal knock.

    In addition the phone records don’t matter much to anyone. A phone bill will only show how many times someone answered the phone, he testified that he kept calling, also he could have called from his cell phone. He had a house phone too.

  2. mikey says:

    Actually the phone bill you get only contains calls that were answered. The phone company has detailed records of all numbers dialed. I worked for a travel company that wanted to monitor incoming calls from a few 1-800 numbers they had set up for a special promotion. Some records showed a call time of 0. When asked, the phone company said they were from people that called, but hung up before the phone was answered.
    Listen to RF’s police interview and you will hear that he feared for his life. This was no pre-meditated act of vengence. He repeatedly said he thought whoever was at the door was trying to get in and kill him.

  3. TPB says:

    Wrights testimony: Ryan told him he had something for the Police…..

    Let’s see, leave the tubs, lights, transformers, magazines and books, trace POT, Bong, Pipe, etc in his garage / attic / house.

    Buy new deadbolts days later.

    Leave lights on inside house so movement could be seen from outside.

    Have only one pistol, not fully loaded and cleaned and ready to fire at will on; inside dresser drawer.

    Stay Gold,

  4. TPB says:

    The Re-enactment video..

    Flashes showing stills were made.

    Photographer asking Prosecuter to move out of photo.

    Timing was not important, Video did not need to be accuate.

    String and Laser lines show that measurement were or should have been taken.

  5. TPB says:

    When Det. Roberts said they asked Wright 15 times about the break in. Why would they ask Wright 15 times? Did not like the first 14 times, or was he giving the answer that they wanted to hear, or they didn’t beleive Wright or trust Wright.

    If they didn’t trust him, Why did they trust him?, or at least exercise due diligence?, or at least good sense?
    It is and was the Police Departments Responsibilty to follow and use good sense and procedures.

    How can the Police fault Ryan Frederick?, when the Police themselves did not use good judgement and respect the authority that is vested in them?

    Stay Gold,

  6. Marty says:

    good editorial- I’m not familiar with the story, but it fits the circumstance.

  7. John Wilburn says:

    The thing that I find interesting in all this, is that the CPD and the prosecutors are relying heavily on the testimony of several criminals, in order to make their case against a man who had no criminal record, until they showed up at his door.

    Who is it, really, who deserves to be locked in a 9 x 5 cell, 23 hours a day? I hear they have at least 20 of them, over at the jail…

  8. Opinions says:

    And the defense is relying heavily on someone who was high on weed and a pill, half of one. Guns and drugs don’t mix!! Everyone has no criminal history until they get one. RF intended to kill someone.

  9. Disappointed says:

    I love editorials to see other people’s substantuated arguments but “Opinions” seems to be merely making illogical posts. Has he even kept up with the details of this case???? I am a strong supporter of most of Hampton Roads police departments but the CPD has/is completely rail-roading this poor gentleman. It’s a complete embarrassment to our community and I’m blown away that it has proceeded as far as it has.

  10. Kt says:

    Do you have any feeling how the recording in the police car and the video of the interrogation was received? Watching bits of it on-line is very powerful but not the same as being in the court room.

  11. I got chills down my spine when Ryan vomited in the video and audio. He was beside himself the whole time, but both in the audio from the van and in the video from the interrogation room, he vomited at the exact moment when he talked about having realized that he killed a man. He was able to tell the rest of his story clearly shaken, but stable. But he could not get the part about killing another human being out of his mouth without becoming physically ill.

    I heard him describe this fact in his testimony, but I was still unprepared for the poignancy of hearing, then seeing it.

  12. Laughingdog says:

    The most mind boggling claim I’ve seen from the prosecution though all of this was that Ryan vomiting afterward serves as proof that he was high. I was on the fire department when I was younger. After my first car accident with a fatality, I vomited after I watched the man die. I also didn’t sleep for at least three days, because the second I fell asleep, I’d have nightmares about watching him die, and then wake up screaming.

    I had nothing to do with why that man died, yet it impacted me like that. I can’t imagine what it would be like to find out that you not only killed someone, but it was a police officer.

  13. WONDERING!!! says:

    I have followed this case from the day it started, and have felt from the very beginning that Ryan honestly thought that his life was in danger. Reading this blog has only confirmed this for me. This being said I must say that there are alot of things that concern me. Having never called for “Jury Duty” I wonder do the jurors really realize some of the things that are easy for me(because of this blog) ie, the officer with the battering ram we all know he did not turn around and see if Shivers was standing or kneeling. We heard one officer state that he did not realize Shivers had been shot until he was being dragged to saftey (he was watching the pit bull). I just hope for Ryan’s sake that he has an intelligent jury, I can’t imagine my life being in the hands of 12 people I do not know. I also can not imagine being in Ms. Shivers position either, it pains me to think of loosing my spouse. I feel so badly to both of these people, their lifes have been destroyed and the blame lies on CPD policies. Sad just terribly sad.

    May the lord be with both of them. I know they are both in my prayers!

  14. Opinions says:

    DT, did RF admit to taking a bong hit and half of a pill. Yes! His testimony supports this assertion.
    That’s pretty logical. You drive a vehicle facing forward, when some one comes up to your left or right side and gets in front of you, you see them. Pretty logical that if some one tries to share that portch by reaching in a door in front of your position, you will know they are.

    Dissapointed, I have been keeping up with the trials details, by being in the court room. Your sound bites and video clips from the media don’t do it for me. My daughter told me she got an A on her report card, she forgot to tell me about the B.

    Anyone can argue points from both sides, there is no doubt about that. In the end, all are Opinions.
    Guns and drugs don’t mix. Fact

    • Don Tabor says:

      Opi, what does RF having used a small amount of marijuana hours earlier, or his prescription medication, have to do with Det. Baronne seeing whether Det. Shivers crouched or leaned? There is no logical relationship between the two.

      Yesterday, Baronne testified he was certain Shivers had not crouched down or leaned forward, but earlier in the trial he testified he did not see him fall to the ground until after he abandoned the attempt to breach the door after the shot was fired. Those are logically connected.

      That doesn’t mean that I think Baronne is an intentional liar, I am pointing out that our minds fill in the gaps in what we know with what we believe, and sometimes incorrectly. That is a problem for jurors in determining the truth.

      But keep in mind that it is the burden of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Frederick knew he was shooting at a policeman if he is to be convicted of capital murder. Lacking certainty on that point, manslaughter is the most that could apply if they are convinced he was reckless, or even impaired, when he fired.

  15. Scooby Doo says:

    Dr. Tabor.The police seem to have acted in good faith to obtain the initial warrant, but when they found out before the raid that the information had been obtained illegally, the break in by the informant (audio of the initial questioning), are they under no obligation to inform the issuing judge or magistrate of this new information if they have not yet served the warrant? This may not relevant to the defense against this charge at this time, but I am curious.

  16. Opinions says:

    Det. Barone was asked if anyone attempted to reach through the door with their arm in addition to your question in addition to many other questions. You got a B on your report card too. See you have your opinion of what was asked Doc. None of us will ever know what happened, I do know drugs and guns don’t mix. That will always be logical. The jury will do their best, I’m guessing they will do what we all are……..simply not agreeing. Humans are crazy creatures of habit.

    • Don Tabor says:

      Opi, Yes, Baronne was asked if Shivers or anyone else reached through the hole and said no. That would have been in his field of view, and, thus, I did not question that portion of his testimony He was also asked if Shivers crouched or leaned forward to look through the hole, to which he also said no, and that he could not have known, so I pointed that out.

      In a sense, you are doing the same thing, assuming that because I challenged one statement in his testimony that I was disbelieving all of it. I don’t. I was quite clear that I believe him to be generally honest in his testimony.

      In assuming I was referring to parts of his testimony which I did not mention, you are presuming the sides of the house you cannot see are white.

  17. Scooby Doo says:

    Irresponsible police tactics and irrational laws don’t mix either.

  18. Opinions says:

    You would know if someone advance infront of you. A person that close in proximity to you while trying to hit the door, you would visually make sure nothing would obstuct your attempt. Kind of like crossing the street, left right left again. One could use the white house theory to argue from all angles. I leave you with this……..I do not hate you for your beliefs or opinions we live in a free country that affords us many rights that people in other countries envy.

    • Don Tabor says:


      Don’t get the idea that I hate police. I respect and value their service and I understand the importance of the rule of law.

      But a good policeman was killed, and that is primary tragedy in this case. The greater tragedy would be that if by scapegoating Frederick, the Chesapeake Police fail to accept responsibility for the bad policy that led to his death and make appropriate change. All of the public statements made by the Chesapeake Police leadership indicate that nothing has been learned and the reckless policies that cost Det. Shiver’s life, and endanger citizens’ lives, will continue.

      I hope you can see that would be unacceptable to responsible citizens.

  19. Zargon says:

    I find it interesting that RF answered that he didn’t want marijuana legalized. It’s entirely irrelevant to the case, but I wonder if that’s a sincere thought, or telling the jury what it wants to hear.

    Whether Shivers actually reached through RF’s door that night is seems irrelevant to me. Either Shivers actually did reach in, or RF mistook the end of the battering ram for an arm. It seems perfectly reasonable to assume RF feared for his life either way. Either way, the police acted in a fundamentally immoral, not to mention dangerous fashion that night.

    Focusing on the drugs is purely willful ignorance. The police that arrested him thought him sober enough to apparently not even perform a drug test. If a drug test was performed, you can bet one side or the other would have introduced it as evidence.

    I’m surprised they didn’t question RF’s neighbors about the crime level. It seems that now that the crime map is excluded, the jurors simply have to take RF at his word that it’s a high crime area, unless they just so happen to know for themselves (and the prosecution no doubt didn’t allow anybody who lives in that immediate area on the jury).

  20. mikey says:

    Opinion has his opinion. We don’t know what we will do in a certain situation until in that situation. We can all say RF should have waited until the door was fully open so he could serve coffee to his new guests that were letting themselves in…okay being a little sarcastic. RF did not know it was the police at the door, he walks into the living room and sees a huge hole in his door and a battering ram/arm or whatever coming through the door, dogs barking like crazy, everything is chaos. What do you do? He chose to shoot an intruder through the hole in the door. Not blindly, but through the hole. Someone who was trained or been through something like that may have been a lot calmer and collected, but to expect an ordinary citizen to be totally rational at that point is ridiculous.
    Something with the police setup outside the home bothers me. Usually when you see police breakins on TV all of the cops except the one with the “ram” are off to the side, away from the portal until the door is clearly open. Why was Shivers behind or anywhere near the guy breaking down the door. There was something wrong with the whole procedure outside, besides the point it should not have happened in the first place. But that will be brought up in the wrongful death trial if there is one.

  21. Marty says:

    I like the point about using criminals to build a case against a citizen.

    your ‘drugs and guns’ comments are pretty thin… if a cop takes blood pressure medicine or antidepressants should he leave his sidearm at the station? what if he uses nicotine or caffeine? I can’t imagine someone educating themselves about drugs and arriving at your conclusions.

  22. CEH says:

    There seems to be a continual thought that since the first interviewing detective tells Frederick that we (the CPD) knew about the burglary that the police knew it was the informant. I think testimony has shown that the CI informed them of the burglary but denied doing it – he admitted lying and breaching the CI contract on the stand. I just wanted to put that one to rest.

    I am a law enforcement supporter, my thoughts/desired outcomes from this are:

    *The CPD should discontinue the use of uncorroborated Criminal CI statements (as oppposed to a concerned citizen’s statements, with nothing to gain and at possible great personal risk) to establish probable cause for their warrants. This will put a greater burden on them for a more thorough investigation, requiring more time and resources, but if helps to avoid future tragedies like this, it will be worth it.

    *Forced entries for non-violent crimes should be a last resort only after all other reasonable alternatives are considered.

    *All search warrant executions should be videotaped.

    *I do not think they (the CPD) are corrupt or acted in a willfully wrong manner. They performed in a manner deemed acceptable by the law enforcement community (I think if it wasn’t, Broccoletti would have had LE experts to testify to that effect). However, as bulleted above, I think they can and should do better in the future.

    *I think the evidence has supported the notion that Frederick manufactured and distributed (having friends come over and smoke it with him) marijuana. I think he should be convicted of that.

    *I do not think the evidence has shown he knew or should have known, beyond a reasonable doubt, it was the police outside. However, that, in my opinion, will be the toughest challenge for the jury. Will they believe him?

    *I think a lesser included offense of manslaughter, if allowed, would be appropriate. He took a man’s life and the police did have the right to be there. We can debate their tactics, policies, motivation, etc. But they were serving a lawful search warrant in a manner currently deemed appropriate (not by all I know).

    *The CPD needs to do some soul-searching. I think they probably have some members that will mirror my sentiments, however doing so in the current law enforcement culture will take courage and some guts. It should come from the top first, let’s cross our fingers that it does.

    *I’m very disappointed with the tactics of the prosecution team (the CPD did not choose them and are at the mercy of how they want to conduct the trial, the police have no control and little say over that). Do I think they are corrupt? No. I think they have tunnel vision and their ultimate goal is to convict a cop killer, and not to ensure that justice is actually served. They need to do some soul searching as well.

  23. CEH says:

    Oh yeah, although we’ve been heated at times, Doc, John, Rick, and others, thanks for your work and discussion.

  24. Opinions says:

    I can’t wait till your utopia of a society arrives. I would call it proactive drug enforcement. I wish that it happened differently for everyones sake. If Det. Shivers was not shot, RF would have been tried for possesion. In addition possesion of a firearm. The police were not there to cause harm to him. They could have shot him and lied about it as opposed to taking him into custody ans getting together and lying about the whole thing.

  25. CEH says:


    “Utopia of a society” is directed at my post? I don’t recall chanting “com by ya” or however it is spelled. I’m all for proactive law enforcement, shouldn’t it be done in a responsible manner and not what is easiest for the police, you know “differently for everyone’s sake”?

    I’ve cast no disparaging remarks about the CPD, but that doesn’t mean there are not lessons to be learned.
    And yeah, they exercised great restraint – they are professionals.

  26. Bill says:


    I think many of your suggestions are valid, and I agree. However, I don’t think we can safely put aside the question of the CPD’s misuse of their informant. Remember that Wright lied repeatedly, and that he got out of custody the day after he testified–maybe a coincidence, maybe quid pro quo. But either way, he was in custody at the time he testified, and had nothing to lose by presenting the account the police wanted, and perhaps everything to gain.

    If you listen to the recording of the first interview with Frederick, you will note that not only do the police know that the garage was broken into, but Frederick is specifically asked if any marijuana plants were stolen. It’s a big stretch to believe that Wright told the police about the burglary and even what was stolen, and they didn’t believe he was a part of the burglary.

    I also wonder why Wright (supposedly) took cell phone video of the plants if he didn’t think of it as “evidence”.

    On the other hand, you have the interview with Renaldo Turnbull. Turnbull said that the police did have prior knowledge of the burglary (though he would not go so far as to say they encouraged it), and they encouraged the burglars to look for certain things. I don’t see where Turnbull had anything to gain, so why would we assume that he was lying and Wright was telling the truth?

  27. CEH says:

    Yeah, one more thing Opinions… he would have been tried for possession, the gun probably would not have come into play at all and he would have been given first offender status, dismissed after a year. If only it was done differently. Think about it.

  28. RacerX says:


    Why would he be “tried” for legally owning a gun?

    The police should be commended for not shooting RF and lying about it?

  29. Bill says:

    Opinions, you say:

    “They could have shot him and lied about it as opposed to taking him into custody ans getting together and lying about the whole thing.”

    Well, here’s my opinion–nothing more than an opinion, but informed by police conduct elsewhere. My opinion is that, one or more of the police were aware of Wright’s burglary and chose to look the other way, because he was useful to them. Probably most of the LEO on the scene that night had no idea how the warrant had been obtained.

    However, I also suspect–again, just my opinion–that the “knock and announce” used by CPD has been degraded a bit, with the knocking and announcing being done more quietly and more quickly, as a matter of routine, possibly because they’ve done it a lot, possibly because they think “shock and awe” is better for officer safety. So, since everyone is already part of that “exaggeration”, it’s not seen as much of a lie. Yet, notice that several of the CPD members on the scene also didn’t hear parts of the announcement.

    But to murder Ryan Frederick after he surrendered and then cover it up would be a major crime, and to assume that ALL their colleagues would cover that up would be a huge stretch on the part of any of the officers on the scene. I don’t think they’re anywhere near THAT corrupt–in fact, I’m sure they have the best of intentions–but even if they were outright criminals, none of them would be foolish enough to assume that everyone would cover for them without prior discussion.

  30. CEH says:

    Well, the Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney prosecuting Wright did object to his release on bond, so I’m not sure quid pro quo is an issue. His defense attorney had a better argument I guess. I posted on the Agitator that if he had remained in jail, some could have seen that as a conspiracy to keep him available for further testimony. So, it has been amazing in this case how points of view have been so different regarding the same circumstances.

    With Wright, you have a guy bragging for his street cred I guess. It’s easy to put things together and come to different conclusions. I will need to listen to the interview again and see if I come away with the same impression you have.

    Regarding Turnbull, seems his testimony would be quite damning to the police, why didn’t Broccoletti call him as a witness? There’s more to it I guess.

  31. CEH,

    The Chesapeake Commonwealth’s Attorney did no such thing, I’m sorry. The Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney did.

  32. Scooby Doo says:

    Thanks for addressing the warrant issue. I had missed the part that they knew about the burglary but, they did not know it was the informant.
    I will give the benefit of doubt to the police, but then one must ask are these particular detectives that incompetent? Or, purposefully negligent in their diligence?

  33. CEH says:

    Sorry Rick, Judge Kushner is a Chesapeake Circuit Court Judge, CA Amanda Abbey works for Chesapeake. He was being held in Va. Beach for obvious safety reasons once outed by the media as a CI in this case. He was in jail on Chesapeake charges, Va. Beach had nothing to do with it.

  34. Zargon says:

    They knew about the break-in, they knew that marijuana plants were stolen, they knew all that because Wright told them so, and if I’m not mistaken Wright also provided a photo of the plants after they were taken. But Wright denied being the thief. I believe Wright was being held at the time for credit card fraud, which conveniently cleared up shortly thereafter.

    The police dealing with Wright were not negligent or incompetent. They were simply careful about what questions they asked, because they highly suspected there were answers they didn’t want to hear.

    One of the base causes as to why police are so eager to nail people for consensual crimes, such as drugs and gambling, to the point of cutting deals with real criminals, is because when making arrests and searches related to consensual crimes, police have broad powers to take everything they can, cash, cars, TVs, ect. on the principle that it was bought with dirty money. The department gets to keep the loot. There’s tons of cases of police finding large amounts of money and just taking it. If they can charge you with something when they rob you, they get to keep the loot. If they can’t charge you with anything, they get to keep it anyways, unless you’re willing to spend a few years and a few tens of thousands of bucks on lawyers and court fees.

    Was that a factor in this particular case? We’ll never know.

  35. Jones says:

    The hairs you try to split are getting a bit ridiculous. Any one standing at the position Det. Barone was standing would easily see if someone came up to the outside of the door. He does not have some sort of extreme tunnel vision stopping him from paying attention to more then the door. It would take a milli-second to glance to the side and see no one was in his way when he was about to hit the door again. Especially to the degree that RF describes someone reaching through the door.

    You’ve gone beyond biased in this case. You point every inconsistency with the prosecution and ignore the defenses. I know you have your Libertarian agenda and this helps your cause, but you are not “reporting”. You are manipulating things to further what you already believe.

  36. CEH,

    So Chesapeake Police knew Ryan Frederick’s garage had been burglarized, but did not know that his confidential informant, Steven Rene Wright was involved?

    I will assume that is true of every officer in that stack, with the likely exception of Detective Kiley Roberts, the team leader. He wrote the affidavit for the warrant, based on the word of Steven Wright. But according to what he knew at the time he wrote the warrant, it took willful ignorance on his part to get that far. If we believe every word of the testimony of Roberts and Wright, Roberts obtained the warrant to search RF’s home, on the strength of the following evidence:

    * Ryan was growing marijuana: Steven said so.
    * Ryan was selling marijuana: Steven said so.
    * Steven was aware of a burglary of Ryan’s garage, in which marijuana plants were stolen.
    * Steven had no part in the burglary: he said so.
    * Steven had the plants that had been stolen in his possession at one time: he had video footage of himself and the burglars in the same room with the plants, although that footage was shot somewhere other than Ryan’s property.
    * Steven still had no role in the burglary.
    * Steven no longer had the plants in his possession, and therefore did not turn them over to the police.

    Now, I understand that Ryan later admitted in court that he was growing marijuana for his personal use, but that’s not what Det. Roberts knew when he sought the warrant on 15 January.

    What he did know at the time, as illustrated above, provided him with far more evidence that Steven was an active participant in the burglary, and that he and his accomplices were establishing an illegal marijuana grow operation of their own, in some undisclosed location in Norfolk, thus violating not only multiple laws, but the terms of the CI contract Steven had signed.

    What Det. Roberts did to assuage any doubts, was to engage in a question and answer period with Steven that went some way similar to this:

    Roberts: Are you sure you weren’t involved in that there burglary?
    Wright: Yes.
    Rinse and repeat 14 times.

    I don’t propose to know if Det. Roberts had any legal obligation to corroborate the evidence given to him by Steven Wright before undertaking a forceful entry into Ryan’s home. If he did, he violated that obligation. If he had no such obligation, it should be created for future investigative operations immediately.

  37. CEH says:


    You are implying the video was shown to Roberts prior to his search warrant affadavit. It is my understanding that it did not come to light until after Wright was instructed to be truthful to the prosecutor and police by his attorney. So, yes, Roberts had the uncorroborated statements from Wright that marijuana was being grown, some had been stolen, but no, he did not do it. The video did not come into play until later. To my knowledge there is no lawful requirement to corroborate a CI’s statements, just seems like it should be a good practice to me though.

    Should Roberts have had doubts, 14 questions seems to indicate so. Did he know, for sure his CI was the burglar? That has not been proven.

  38. Scooby Doo says:

    I agree with you 100%, “simply careful about what questions they asked, because they highly suspected there were answers they didn’t want to hear.” That is a dereliction of duty.

  39. supercat says:

    I don’t propose to know if Det. Roberts had any legal obligation to corroborate the evidence given to him by Steven Wright before undertaking a forceful entry into Ryan’s home.

    No legitimate search warrant may be issued absent probable cause supported by oath or affirmation. Courts are sometimes ridiculously generous in giving weight to observations which are comparatively meaningless, because those observations are colored by unsworn statements by alleged witnesses, but usually there is at least some sworn statement regarding personal observation. A search warrant application where none of the people who swore to anything recite any personal observation whatsoever cannot be legitimate under the Constitution.

    If warrants based purely on hearsay were legitimate, one could get around the ‘oath or affirmation’ requirement by simply having someone sit in the courtroom and listen to unworn statements by people; that person could then swear as to what was just said. To accept hearsay as evidence that the heard-said things were true would be to render totally meaningless the “oath or affirmation” requirement.

  40. That’s just it, CEH. He didn’t know for sure that Wright was the burglar, but neither did he know for sure that RF was growing anything. The fact is, he acted on the one that was far less likely, even if he had not seen the video. I’ll review my notes, but I’m almost 100% certain Wright said the video was shared during his first report to Roberts. Right now, I’m at work, and my notes are at home.

    Either way, he made a conscious decision about which questions not to ask, and which answers to count as reliable. That behavior is not acceptable for someone with as much power as a police detective. His behavior is mighty damn close to a violation of the Brady decision, and it might actually violate, depending on how Brady has been interpreted since.

  41. supercat says:

    *I think a lesser included offense of manslaughter, if allowed, would be appropriate.

    If the intruders had been non-government burglars, RF’s shot would have been 100% righteous and praiseworthy. If RF could not reasonably have known that the intruders were police, a manslaughter conviction would only make sense if he should have believed that the intruders were something other than burglars. Should he have thought they might be television repairman, or what possibility should he have considered?

  42. CEH says:


    He didn’t act on the one that was far less likely, he acted on the one that turned out to be true. The defense and Frederick now admit he grew marijuana. Now, that doesn’t change my opinion that corroboration of criminal CI information should be made. But, the information supplied by Wright was accurate(in that RF was growing marijuana – not that he wasn’t the burglar). Apparently he supplied accurate information in the past as well, hence he was deemed reliable. Why can things known after the fact by used to impeach the word of the police, but the same cannot be used to support them?

    Supercat, self-defense is everyone’s right. I do not agree with Libertarians that you have the right to kill to protect your property. Is that the burden you would want the police to have if your party gains more prominence? Right now they are only supposed to use deadly force to protect life. How much is a human life worth? I’d submit there is no property valued as much. Burglary is a property crime, not a crime against a person. You defend yourself when you are actually threatened with bodily harm. I don’t know what RF knew, I don’t know what others know when they decide to shoot to defend themselves. I do know the police were there lawfully and RF admits he didn’t know what he was shooting at, he just shot (it’s on the video from the second interview). I just shot. That is wrong.

  43. CEH says:


    One other comment. The police, in this country, are granted the authority to undertake search and seizures. A criminal is not. That is why there are differences between a true criminal being killed and a cop being killed. The public, prosecutors, police, courts, etc. are less likely to condemn a person for protecting themselves from a true criminal and why when they “defend” themselves from a lawful police action they are treated differently.

  44. Bill says:

    I’m sure that in applying for the search warrant, Roberts indicated that Wright was a “reliable source”; after all, he’d provided them with information before, right?

    Let’s think about that for a moment: according to Wright, he went to the police and informed on a drug dealer that had made threats against him. The police “took care” of that.

    Then, Wright, who had been dating Ryan’s fiancee’s sister, had a falling out with Ryan Frederick, supposedly (according to Frederick) because Wright didn’t treat the sister well. So Wright then talks to his friends on the police force about Frederick. The police then stage a seventeen person raid on Frederick’s home.

    I now see that I was very, very wrong when I believed that Wright was working for the police. In fact, it looks more like the police were working for Wright.

  45. juris imprudent says:

    Opi we live in a free country that affords us many rights that people in other countries envy.

    One of those rights very clearly is to be secure in our homes and our persons from unreasonable search and seizure. When the police use uncorroborated accusations from a quetionable source as the basis for a dynamic entry warrant it is VERY unreasonable (IMHO, even if not in the opinion of SCotUS).

    Interesting point here. The police claim they knew that RF had a gun – I wonder how. Virginia does not have handgun registration. So where did they get that info, and if they could be bothered to do that, why didn’t they do any investigation to validate what they got from Wright?

    Another question I have is what happened to Turnbull the accomplice? Neither side called him as a witness? He supposedly told at least one journalist that he and Wright were committing burglaries FOR CPD to find evidence. How could he just disappear from this case?

  46. Bill says:

    CEH, just to clarify, it is not a libertarian principle that you have the right to kill to protect property. As a libertarian myself, I would never believe myself justified in using deadly force unless I believed that I or some innocent person was in danger of death or serious bodily harm. Libertarians believe that no one has the right to initiate the use of force, but that defensive use of force is justified. That’s one reason most libertarians don’t like the current drug laws: they allow the government to initiate the use of force against someone who is not harming anyone but themselves.

  47. juris imprudent says:

    CEH The police, in this country, are granted the authority to undertake search and seizures.

    ONLY when they have probable cause sufficient to convince an unbiased party (a judge) to issue a search warrant. If they are untruthful in getting the warrant the warrant is invalid as a matter of law, which strips the police of the “color of authority” they are acting under (and at which point they are just a bunch of guys with guns) – nothing more, nothing less.

  48. supercat says:

    As I have explained on other threads, 99% of thieves operate by either stealth, deception, or force. RF knew that the people breaking into his house weren’t trying to operate by stealth, and didn’t seem to be operating by deception. What should RF have expected the intruders to do if not attack him personally?

  49. juris imprudent says:

    CEH I do not agree with Libertarians that you have the right to kill to protect your property.

    Not a Libertarian position per se. Interestingly enough, it is the law in Texas (no surprise there, right) and California!

  50. supercat says:

    When the police use uncorroborated accusations from a quetionable source as the basis for a dynamic entry warrant it is VERY unreasonable (IMHO, even if not in the opinion of SCotUS).

    More to the point, even if police have a warrant which is obtained 100% legitimately, such a warrant can only authorize searches and seizures to be conducted in reasonable fashion. In the absence of exigent circumstances, breaking into an occupied dwelling without first establishing that the occupant would be unwilling to open the door to people who identify themselves as cops is outright reckless, ergo unreasonable, ergo unlawful.

  51. I was right. Wright did turn over the video during the first meeting. So my point stands intact. At the time he swore out his affidavit for the warrant on 15 January, Roberts was aware of the burglary, had access to video footage of Wright with the plants and other burglars, in a location other than RF’s property, was told by SRW that, although he had nothing whatsoever to do with the burgalry, he had the plants in his possession, but not with him at the time.

    He consciously chose not probe this clear evidence for SRW’s involvement in the burglary. He consciously chose to accept the video of the grow-op in Norfolk as evidence of a grow-op in Portlock.

    He acted only on the evidence that provided him with the opportunity to gear up and play army in Portlock with his friends.

    Violation of law? I don’t know, but someone should ask. Ethical violation? At the very least.

  52. The Johnny Appleseed of Crack says:

    It’s true that law enforcement has a right to conduct searches and seizures (so long as they are executed after obtaining a warrant) that everyday citizens cannot.

    Along with that right comes the responsibility to clearly, methodically, and unambiguously show the person being searched that you do in fact have a lawful justification to conduct a search. A lawful search should always be conducted in the most non-threatening, non-destructive manner possible for the given situation.

    If the search is conducted using home invasion tactics, then the person being searched has no way of knowing that they are police, and not criminals. In such a situation, the person being searched has the right to defend himself with lethal force, if he believes his life is in danger.

  53. Opinions says:

    We have established that RF would have shot anyone that came to his door. Since he tripped down the portch, a reasonable person could assume that his girlfriend could have tripped and put her head through the door. Umm, who knows everythings debatable……I declare this blog pointless for everyone except agenda pushers……. now I am going to go cook up some food and pay real close attention to everything that goes on at my neighbors house.

  54. Fatwa Arbuckle says:

    Doc and John –

    Belated thanks for all of the time and effort you’ve put into following this case; I’ve been lurking since Radley Balko linked here after the story first broke.

    The reportage, analysis and opinions in this forum are greatly appreciated.

    I hope this tragedy helps to eventually effect significant change in our country’s drug policies; IMHO the current ones have little, if any, upside whatsoever.

    “We have established that RF would have shot anyone that came to his door.”

    I believe it would be accurate to say that RF would be inclined to shoot anyone violently breaching his door, especially just days after his home was burgled.

    But that’s just me.

  55. CEH says:

    Rick, there is no mention of a video being shown to Roberts in John’s day 6 (Wright’s first full day of testimony) notes, nor has that been something raised by Broccoletti which would certainly serve to impeach the validity of the warrant as you suggest. By all accounts he is good at what he does, how is he missing that? Plus, dancing and singing about their successful “operation” on video to dupe the police is probably not something they would show to Det. Roberts. I think you are mistaken.

  56. CEH says:

    Juris, has it been proven the police were untruthful in this matter? The truth is, Frederick was growing marijuana. We may not like how that information came to be known by the police (through a criminal informant) but it was truthful. The warrant has not been deemed by the court to be invalid.

  57. CEH, I dispute that the information turned out to be true. SRW’s allegation was not just that RF was growing, but also selling. To this date, there is no corroborating evidence of any sales. What RF has admitted to is growing for his own personal use, for a year, but not continuously. The fact that the plants he had in January were in such an early stage of growth corroborates that. And, he had only eight plants, an as yet undetermined number of which were males, that would never produce anything smokable. A regular user cannot even supply himself for longer than a month or two on that. The evidence we have, even now, supports RF’s admission, not SRW’s allegation of sales.

    Even I would like to believe that Det. Roberts would not have knowingly placed cops or civilians in the sort of danger that is attendant to a forceful entry, over a personal stash. I’m not saying he actively sought falsified information. Just that he actively chose to view what was before him in the light most favorable to taking his team out to play.

    That’s a very dangerous and irresponsible proclivity for a detective, and it places us all in danger.

  58. CEH says:

    Rick, yes that’s what Wright indicated. Frederick also admitted on the stand to growing and having friends come over and smoke what he grew with them. That’s manufacturing and distribution. Money doesn’t have to change hands, but I think it likely, in some cases, it did.

  59. CEH, I appreciate your slow-pulsed, and reasoned discourse, even if i disagree with your conclusions.

    Opi, on the other hand, your intellectual gymnastics are becoming tiresome, and as far as I’m concerned beneath response. For that reason, I’ve not responded to your comments, but it’s come to a point that I feel compelled to make it known that you are on ignore to me, and wherever I see your name, I will sail on past without reading. You discredit yourself, I don’t have to work at it.

  60. Scooby Doo says:

    Do you think Det. Roberts will do more next time and not just ask the same question 15 times. Does not matter what anyone else says, Roberts will carry that burden even if he does try to live in denial

  61. Under the law, sharing joints around the room, without compensation is not distribution. It is possession for each individual in the circle, but it is not distribution. Furthermore, that was not the limit of Wright’s claims. He said he made buys. There is no corroboration of that, even today, and certainly not when Roberts sought the warrant.

    Roberts was overeager.

  62. Scoob,

    When it all shakes out, Roberts will be lucky not to placed on the Brady alert list, and ultimately lose his job. If he doesn’t, I suppose it’s likely he’ll proceed more cautiously in the future. Like a dog that’s been punished, he’ll be a better doggy going forward.

    But you’d better still watch him in the kitchen.

    • Don Tabor says:

      I don’t really care if Det. Roberts has learned to be more cautious because of this experience. We can’t keep paying for hard lessons in blood. We need to change the law here in Virginia, at the least, to restrain the next over-eager officer.

      I have been discussing a legislative proposal with Tidewater Libertarian Party Counsel Steve Merrill, and we will be crafting a proposed bill to institute changes in the Warrant procedures that would reserve forced entry searches for those cases where they are justified. I hope we will be able to count on the support of citizens of good will in pushing these changes forward.

  63. mikey says:

    I don’t think RF was shooting to protect his property. He stated in court and in his post-shooting interview at jail that he feared for his life. He did not know who was breaking in his door. They did not announce themselves properly. Apparently they found a bullhorn to use after Shivers was shot. Why not use it to announe themselves in the first place? They were trying to be stealth and they did a wondeful job of it. Why does a cop wear a Quicksilver hoody over his work-issue uniform that says POLICE in giant letters across the front of it?
    So even if the police had a lawful right to be there they had a responsibility to announce themselves properly. If they don’t do that then how can they expect someone to comply with their instructions. This case doesn’t even warrant a manslaughter conviction.

    I don’t know if I buy the “rammer’s” testimony or not. If he already had a big enough hole in the door why bother ramming the door again? Just reach in through the hole and unlock the door. Maybe Shivers saw him drop the ramming device while he was reaching in to open the door and took that as a signal that the door was ready to open. Maybe that’s why he was in back of the officer ramming the door instead of off to the side in a safer position. Just something to think about. If there is a wrongful death suit filed then all of these facts will be scrutinized to the nth degree. I think we will see video tape become a requirement for these types of operations in the near future.

    On the rights of citizens to defend themselves…..
    Florida has a new law that gives broad rights to citizens to protect themselves with deadly force if they feel their life is being threatened. There is no requirement to try to run away. If someone is trying to carjack you then you can shoot to kill if you feel your life is being threatened. Now the robber may have only intended to steal the car, but if the owner felt that at any poimt his/her life was threatened then it is okay to shoot. Some have said the law is too loose, but it makes potential robbers think twice. Sounds kinda like the wild, wild, west. I wonder if it is a deterent. Time will tell.

  64. CEH says:

    Rick, we will continue to agree to disagree. The actual state law for distribution includes the term “giving” as well. If RF is growing it and giving to friends to smoke with him he is distributing it and possessing it. The friends are just possessing it.

  65. CEH says:


    18.2-248.1 of the Code of Va. talks about the penalties for “giving” marijuana without a desire for profit. It is distribution, money need not change hands.

  66. CEH, the law does include “giving”, however, it also prescribes a minimum amount that far exceeds the amount found in a joint. I don’t remember the exact amount, and I don’t have it at hand, but the amount you’d have to “give” in order to be subject to distribution is set to exclude the act of sharing a joint or a bong. It is also so defined as to prevent the joint being counted cumulatively over a period of weeks or months to add up to the distribution amount.

    Besides, I still don’t think so poorly of Roberts that he would split those hairs to generate the distribution in order to have the cause to raid. He and many others might very well be willing to split those hairs after the shooting in order to justify what’s already been done. But I assume he wouldn’t endanger all those people by initiating a raid over a personal stash. He thought he had a big-time grow-op at hand, SRW gave him that impression, and he accepted the word of SRW without probing.

  67. mikey says:

    Well one thing’s for sure. The police don’t have the plants to prove anything. It’s really going to be how the jury plays it out. I wouldn’t consider smoking dope with friends to be distribution. If RF was honest enough to admit he was growing for personal use only, why would the jury believe he was a dealer. He could have easily said he didn’t grow pot, but then he would have been proven a liar by the residue left behind in the bins. He already testified he only had three or four plants that would not have amounted to anything and they were not even mature when he threw them out. Too bad he didn’t throw out the bins he was growing pot in. All they would have had then was a banana tree as evidence.

  68. 18.2-248.1

    (a) Any person who violates this section with respect to:

    (1) Not more than one-half ounce of marijuana is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor;

    (2) More than one-half ounce but not more than five pounds of marijuana is guilty of a Class 5 felony;

    (3) More than five pounds of marijuana is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 30 years.

    What Ryan did with SRW is (1) at worst. That’s not raidworthy, even to an overeager cop. Roberts sent that team in there looking for (5), because he believed SRW, and was willing to turn his back on burglary in order to continue believing.

  69. Jones says:

    Why would it be hard for Det. Roberts to believe that Steven Wright knew RF, he hung out with him and had access to view the grow operation. Steven then tells Det. Roberts about the grow operation. Det. Roberts believes him and types a search warrant. Then Steven Wright says RF has accused him of stealing SOME of the plants. Det. Roberts asks him several times if he did and he denies it. The search warrant is still valid due to the fact that he in good faith believes there are more plants. Once the house is searched there is a lot of evidence showing a grow op existed and no RF even admitts it. Why does everyone think Det. Roberts is covering something up? I don’t see were Det. Roberts turned some obvious bline eye??!!

  70. Jones,

    You don’t see where Roberts turned a blind eye?

  71. Still astonished by that. (blink)

  72. mikey says:

    But in “good faith” he also knew the evidence of the grow operation was obtained illegally if indeed the informant showed him the video of the evidence. This is where the informant screwed things up. Why didn’t he just go to RF personally and say, “hey dude I need some weed. Can you hook me up?” If RF was willing to sell him weed then he probably could have turned the conversation towards the plants. He may have even showed him the plants. The informant probably knew RF did not grow to sell so he just decided to break in and verify. The police shouldn’t have sent a boy to do a man’s job. This was probably brought on by the fact the informant had dated his fiance’s sister. Probably still had a grudge from being dumped by her so he decided to use RF as a get-out-of-jail card when it would work in his favor.

  73. CEH says:

    I agree, the amount needed for the distribution charge is all based on circumstantial evidence. I think the rules of evidence allow for that and that’s why the judge has not thrown the charge out. She even stated there is prima facie evidence to support the charge(meaning the matter appears self-evident from the facts presented)after the defense tried to have it thrown out.

  74. Opinions says:

    Stop maximizing it by saying his home, it was his garage. He knew who did it. He knew why they did it and he was not growin the green stuff and was a law abiding citizen peotecting his home I would be on yalls little boat heading to fairytail land with ya.

  75. CEH says:

    Opinions, I think I get your drift, but man, it was only quarter to six when you posted…lay off the sauce and maybe it would sound more coherent!

  76. Beth says:

    I have yet to see you substantiate your “opinion” with fact.

    Where are your facts, or are they strictly your opinion?

  77. Beth says:

    Re new bill:

    Best of luck Dr. Tabor, with your bill. I can’t agree more. Until these processes are investigated and improvements are made as a result of past mistakes, nothing will change. It’s a damn shame that an officer had to die but let’s not let him die in vain. This should NEVER happen again.

    • Don Tabor says:

      Tidewater LP legislative proposal for search warrants in Virginia:

      Protect the privacy of homes and businesses by restricting the use of forced entries by law enforcement executing search warrants. Something like this (Chapter 19.2):

      The execution of a search warrant on an occupied dwelling by forced entry shall be employed by law-enforcement only after the occupants are provided adequate opportunity to voluntarily open the premises for inspection. If the dwelling appears unoccupied the least intrusive reasonable method for forced entry shall the used.

      A judge or magistrate issuing a search warrant may make exceptions to this rule thereby authorizing a no-knock forced entry by law-enforcement into an occupied dwelling in cases where (i) there is clear and convincing evidence of the presence of a large quantity of easily disposed of contraband in the occupied dwelling, (ii) there is substantial evidence that people within the dwelling are presently in peril of serious harm, or (iii) there is substantial evidence that an armed suspect subject to an arrest warrant is present in the occupied dwelling. The special circumstances must be supported by the requesting officer in his affidavit and entered into the search warrant by the judge or magistrate.

      A search warrant served contrary to these rules shall be invalid and all evidence thus obtained shall be excluded from use at trial.

  78. juris imprudent says:

    CEH Money doesn’t have to change hands, but I think it likely, in some cases, it did.

    For crying out loud – talk about speculation! How dare you argue with me about the validity of the warrant – which I noted was probably within the bounds as defined by SCotUS, even though I personally disagree with that.

    Quite frankly I see very little difference in how the CPD narcotics officers operate and what was known early on in the Johnston case in Atlanta. Yes, I am suggesting widespread corruption, because the laws they are attempting to enforce (and which are virtually unenforceable) are inherently corrupting – just as Prohibition was. The only difference between the prohibition on marijuana and on alcohol is that the former is ignored by a slightly smaller segment of the population.

  79. juris imprudent says:

    I agree, the amount needed for the distribution charge is all based on circumstantial evidence.

    What “circumstantial evidence”? Where are the scales or other instruments of distribution? Where is the cash?

    A couple of growlights and tubs and some RESIDUE? Give me a break.

    There’s about as much evidence of RF being a major grow-op as there is that he cold-bloodedly murdered a cop. Not even Ebert could justify the death penalty in this case, probably because he knew of the heightened scrutiny it would place on the case. Smart move on his part.

  80. Zargon says:

    What’s that proposal supposed to change again?

    “ample opportunity to voluntarily open the premises”
    Betcha Ebert & friends can find plenty of people who think RF had “ample opportunity to voluntarily open the premises”

    “(i) there is clear and convincing evidence of the presence of a large quantity of easily disposed of contraband in the occupied dwelling”
    Wrong answer. Correct answer (thinking within the confines of a society that insists on arresting people simply for owning stuff): you apprehend the suspects outside of the home and search it later. (On second thought, there could be evidence of real crimes inside subject to this)

    (ii) – ok.

    “(iii) there is substantial evidence that an armed suspect subject to an arrest warrant is present in the occupied dwelling.”
    RF was armed. So since he was armed, breaking down his door was a-ok. owait.

  81. Jack says:

    RF admitted to everything described in the probable cause section of the warrant secured by Roberts. He was growing marijuana and he gave marijuana to others to smoke at his residence (Distribution by law). Wright testified that he never admitted to being involved with the burglary until his second meeting with prosecutors. As these blogs wear on, it seems to me that your angst is misdirected. How can you blame a Detective for doing his job. If do not agree with the Law take it up with the legislative body. The PD played by the rules, they were within their legal ights to search RF’s house. The question is wether RF was within his legal rights to do what he did? That is the only question. And hence why he is on trial. 12 Jurors will answer the question, not us.

  82. price says:

    Question: I had time to watch the video and RF looks like someone who realized he messed up. I question his behavior because he admits he hears a knock, maybe several knocks. The very next thing RF does is grab his pistol and cocks the hammer back. Did I hear that correct? Sounds like he was expecting trouble. We will never know, but there was a post earlier that holds some weight. RF was probably expecting trouble from Wright and friends. Who answers their door with a gun w/the hammer pulled back?

  83. juris imprudent says:

    Yes, Jack and no doubt you stand 100% behind the brave officers of Atlanta PD in their relentless quest to rid Atlanta of the scourge of drugs. So what if they killed an innocent old woman – that’s just collateral damage in this great and noble war.

  84. CEH says:


    Wholey crap man (or woman), how dare I argue with you? Who the fuck are you? I’m not arguing anything, I’m providing a different point of view. Speculation, that’s all that’s happened in the media and on sites like this. You speculate based on bits and fragments. The judge thought there was enough (prima facie evidence and all), yet apparently that’s not good enough for you. Did you bother to read previous posts and what the State Code deems distribution? Scales and cash aren’t mentioned. Don’t blurt “how dare” anybody do anything unless you got your shit together, you, in this instance, do not.

  85. price says:

    JI, i have no idea what you are talking about regarding the Atlanta incident you write about. So, I will not compare and contrast on that issue. I just asked a question about RF video and you accuse me supporting the Atlanta PD? Relax, I can argue both sides of this RF issue.

  86. CEH says:

    By the way, those Atlanta officers should rot in prison, as I’ve mentioned before.

  87. juris imprudent says:

    Wow price, you’re using the Jack nom-de-blog as well? Since I directly addressed my reply to him. If you aren’t familiar with Kathryn Johnston in Atlanta, I suggest you read up. You might just view this case a little differently – particularly until ALL of the facts are in (which may not happen in just the scope of this trial).

    CEH – you bitch about other people speculating and then you indulge in it yourself. I don’t care which standard you choose – but apply it liberally (and to yourself). There has been ZERO evidence (including “circumstantial”) presented that RF was dealing – only the testimony of SRW and the stipulation of the defense that RF grew for personal use (which is still a crime, but not the one he is accused of). If you consider SRW of unimpeachable character, fine. Otherwise you might think it ill-advised to base your opinion on his say-so.

    I certainly don’t base my opinion on this case off just RF’s testimony, but on the fact that the State’s case tends toward the absurd. For an example of how a particularly un-likeable person can still be innocent you might also read up on Randy Weaver (Ruby Ridge). His lawyer didn’t even present a defense, he simply pointed out the many flaws in the prosecution case and rested; and won.

  88. price says:


    I read your last post wrong, I thought it said Jack and you (meaning me since I posted last) I digress. I will read up on the Atlanta issue. You never answer my question about the video. No big deal.

  89. juris imprudent says:

    So for those who have attended the trial, I ask again – what happened to Turnbull? Neither the prosecution or defense called him? Just SRW and Curley?

    If Turnbull’s media statement(s) are correct, I really have to wonder why the defense didn’t call him to testify (unless he’s as credible as SRW and Curley too).

  90. juris imprudent says:

    No problem price – sorry for the misunderstanding.

  91. CEH says:


    RF himself admitted to “distributing” the marijuana he grew to his friends to smoke with him. That is “dealing”. Giving marijuana to someone is distributing under Va. State Code. It is the same as dealing, money need not exchange hands. My speculation is based on Wright’s testimony that he did buy marijuana from RF. Could he be lying? Absolutely. Is it likely that a guy who has been growing and therefore manufacturing (per his own admission) marijuana for over a year to have sold at least a little bit of it to his friends reasonable? I think so. If you do not, then you are naive. If your opinion is not based on testimony, WTF is it based on?

  92. Michael says:

    Doc Tabor,

    I see problems with the proposal, as well. But thanks for taking the time to at least present one!

    Maybe an initial statement that these procedures were only to be used in instances where the subject of the warrant could not be apprehended in a fashion as to be deemed the safest way to proceed. That is apprehended on his way to, or from, work. Or even at work. Going in with guns drawn and shouting “shut the fuck up!” does not seem to be the best way to handle these situations. It only serves to elevate the danger and level of confrontation. Meaning making it easier for someone to be killed. More often it won’t be the policemen killed.

    SWAT techniques need to be reserved for dangerous situations including those with hostages, or subjects barricaded, in a standoff situation. In those types of situations, the fact that guns are present is known. Not an unknown, as could be in Ryan’s case. (Interestingly enough. The cops knew he had gun!? I still have not figured that one out!)

    Maybe Number one, is just the opposite of what should happen. It would be more difficult to flush ten pounds of cocaine or pot. So large amount of contraband could not even be disposed of, if the warrant serving procedure called for waiting minutes (2-3?), instead of seconds to open the door. It would be the smaller, less substantial, amount of contraband that could be flushed! Then one would question the use of these techniques with misdemeanor crimes!

    Number two is a given, and would apply to a hostage situation, for one. Which is what SWAT should be doing! But, using that technique in an occupied home, with children, put the children at unneeded risk. In fact, it is a very good reason not to use such force. It also results in psychological trauma to the children, which could be avoided. I just think of the woman that is charged in a similar case as Ryan’s. I am sure her kids are scarred. The claim could be made that the kids were exposed to the cocaine powder and thus, in danger! But, the wording “in peril of serious harm” should prevent the bending, of the laws, that so often happens, by the officers getting the warrants.

    Number three seems to not change anything, from the present case, as described. That is where encouraging the use of less force, maintaining a less confrontational approach, would apply. Prior to allowing the use of number three. It should b directed as last resort. It is a dangerous technique, as proven by this trial. It does not need to proceed as the routine in handling minor drug cases as this.

    Just my thoughts! I am, obviously, no expert.

  93. Michael says:

    And I did not get my two cents worth in about the plants. I bet I could get video within two days of plants, somewhere! There is no proof where they were located and who the previous owner was. It appears to be hearsay, to my uneducated ears. And, it really sounds like the guy had an axe to grind! The other question is could they be identified as cannabis plants, on that video? The video could be bogus, and easily faked!

    another Libertarian “Doc”

  94. CEH says:


    The drug evidence has been established according to the judge (prima facie evidence exists for the charge). The video is a mute point. RF admitted to the elements necessary for the charge (the jury could still decide otherwise, but it is there). This case is about homicide. Was it manslaughter, 1st or 2nd degree murder, or a capital offense as charged? The Jury will decide that as well.

  95. CEH says:

    I’m sorry, or was it justifiable and therefore acquitable?

  96. Price,

    RF was alarmed by the agitated behavior of his dogs, and his first thought was the return of whoever broke into the garage without taking anything. Add to that someone knocking on his door at a time of night when his friends would not do so, because they were aware that it was his normal bed time, and yeah, he got his dander up. He didn’t have to have a particular person in mind to be nervous about that three days following a breaking and entering. And if he did have a particular person in mind, should he have perceived as any less of a threat?

    From that starting point, his door is broken in, which is decidedly not characteristic of his fiancee returning home, nor of a girl scout selling cookies. I can assure you, I’m shooting under those circumstances, too, and I’m not waiting to see a driver’s license.

    I get the impression Steven was the first person who came to RF’s mind as a suspect, but that he didn’t yet have confirmation.

  97. CEH says:


    Come on! Without taking anything? They took his plants, and he knew that. But it didn’t bother him enough to call the police. “Time of night” without doing so? Hey, his friends may know he gets up early, but 8:30 is not late by anyone’s standards. He heard the knocking, but not the shouts of “Police, Search Warrant!”? That is for the jury to decide, you and I have made our decisions, but it is not up to us. I will accept the jury’s verdict, because that is our system of justice, will you?

  98. Don Tabor says:


    The proposed warrant restrictions were written by our counsel based on a suggestion I sent to him. I’m sure his version is more correct legally, but for the sake of the concept, here is what I proposed:

    Service of a Search Warrant on an occupied dwelling by forced entry shall be deemed reasonable and valid only if the occupants are provided adequate time and opportunity to confirm the officers executing the search are sworn police officers with a lawful warrant unless:

    The judge or magistrate issuing the warrant authorizes expedited forced entry due to special circumstances limited to – the suspected presence of easily destroyed evidence, hostages or others in the dwelling in peril, or armed and dangerous criminals reasonably believed to represent a danger to officers or the public if not taken by surprise. The special circumstances must be supported by the requesting officer in his affidavit and entered into the warrant.

    If exigent circumstances require forced entry not so authorized, an affidavit explaining that change shall be delivered to the issuing judge or magistrate within 48 hours and those affidavits will be made available for public review.

    Any warrant served contrary to these rules shall be invalid and all evidence thus obtained shall be excluded.

  99. John Wilburn says:

    CEH –

    At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the only people who say that they heard the police shout, “Police!” were, conveniently, the police…

    Mr. Frederick says he didn’t hear it, and at least 6 neighbors say they didn’t hear it.

    I believe that they probably did knock, and announce, “police” – I just don’t believe they did so, as loudly as they claimed in court…

    I’m not trying to be arbitrary here – I’ve been told by at least 3 police officers, that it’s quite common for the knock and announce to be done in light raps and whispers…

    I believe, for reasons of their own, that these officers did it like that – light raps and whispers…

    I also believe (having more than a passing knowledge of non-verbal communication) that Detective Barone is a very honest man, who was indicating, “discomfort” with his testimony on Friday…


  100. Michael says:

    Doc Tabor,

    Isn’t it interesting how things get changed around so much, when counsel rewrites it?! There are two guns in my dad’s gun case that are not loaded. But, with this exception, I would think that the police could get any warrant they want! A I pointed out, a large amount of contraband would not be easily disposed of. I guess lawyers or counsel don’t have all the right answers, either. But, I always knew that! As I know, I am imperfect, also. Thanks for your reply.

  101. juris imprudent says:

    s it likely that a guy who has been growing and therefore manufacturing (per his own admission) marijuana for over a year to have sold at least a little bit of it to his friends reasonable?

    You don’t vote to convict on what seems reasonable, you do so on evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. No scales, no pot other than his personal stash, no plants, no cash, no anything. No corroborating testimony from anyone credible. No CONTROLLED buys or other direct police observation of growing and dealing. If the pot charge was the most serious one he was facing he wouldn’t have much to worry about. And from a legal tactics standpoint I doubt he would have stipulated to what he did – the police/prosecutor certainly have not proven the charge. However, considering his life is at stake and to establish his unqualified cooperation, he says what he has said. That makes sense to me.

    This case is about homicide.

    Exactly, and that is why the pot issue is a non-issue. Not to mention that pot charge would (hopefully) be harder to prove due to the sloppy policework and that their CI was lying. Fruit of the poisoned tree.

    I will accept the jury’s verdict, because that is our system of justice, will you?

    Given the point in the system we are at yes, but in the interest of justice I don’t think RF should have been put on trial.

  102. supercat says:

    Any warrant served contrary to these rules shall be invalid and all evidence thus obtained shall be excluded.

    Don Tabor: I would suggest an essential addition: defense counsel may argue that a particular warrant was served in unreasonable fashion; jurors should be instructed that unless the state can show that a warrant was served in reasonable fashion, they have a right and duty not to construe any evidence gathered therefrom in a manner unfavorable to the defendant.

    Jurors should be further instructed that they should use their own common sense in determining what is reasonable or unreasonable, recognizing that the state has a duty to minimize risk to people or damage to their property. A search which exposes people to needless risk or causes needless damage to their property is unreasonable.

    To be sure, evidence from illegal searches should often be suppressed before the jury even sees it, but jurors should be informed that they have a right and duty to act as a second check on police conduct.

  103. bigmike says:

    WOW! That Johnson case is scary. It seems very similar to RF’s case except that it was an officer instead of a civilian that was killed. I wonder if charges will be pressed against the officers and the informant in this case as was the Johnson case. I wonder if Wright and Skeeter know the out come of the informants in the Johnson case? If you haven’t read the outcome of that case, here it is:
    “On April 26, 2007, Smith and Junnier pleaded guilty to manslaughter, violation of oath, criminal solicitation, and making false statements. Smith additionally pleaded guilty to perjury. Furthermore, the federal probe into the police department revealed that Atlanta police routinely lied to obtain search warrants, including often falsifying affidavits.

    On May 22, 2008, Tesler was sentenced to 4 years and six months in prison for lying to investigators. He also received 6 months probation and must serve 450 hours of community service.

    On October 30, 2008, Tesler plead guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to violate the civil rights of Johnston. Sentencing on that charge is scheduled for February 2009.”

  104. tarran says:


    In both cases a civilian was killed. Shivers wasn’t in the millitary.

  105. supercat says:

    I wonder if charges will be pressed against the officers and the informant in this case as was the Johnson case.

    Some of the people in both raids should have been prosecuted for felony murder. Of course, the system protects its own far too well for that to ever happen.

    In both cases a civilian was killed. Shivers wasn’t in the millitary.

    In the Johnston case the decedent was a paeon; in the Frederick case, a lord.

  106. Jon Wong says:

    Dr. T…
    The case law in Va. presumes that “dope dealers” are “armed and dangerous”. Which is why when the police are confronting “dope dealers”, the police are given automatic authority do an officer safety (Terry) pat down for weapons. Apriori, pursuant to your proposed legislation and the case law, if the police are going after a dope dealer, the (3) no knock would apply.
    Not a sermon…just a thought.

    • Don Tabor says:

      So, if you are accused by an informant, with no supporting investigation, of selling an illegal drug, your Constitutional rights are invalidated?

      I don’t buy that. Would you care to provide some cites for that?

      Further, there was no arrest warrant against Frederick, and no evidence on which to base one. Any of us could be accused by anyone if Frederick could.

  107. omar says:

    any news today?

    • Don Tabor says:

      Nothing to report as yet. John Wilburn is attending and will call me with a summary as soon as court finishes for the day. A detailed report will follow later.

  108. Ira Tateu says:

    Theree are some excellent arguments on this site but I think we are losing sight of the imortant issue and that is justice. Posters such as ‘Opinions’use absurd reasoning to push their bias onto others. Let’s simplify the subject. Let’s say you received a driving violation and the ticketing officer chose to use a known liar to testify against you; is that what you would expect as a citizen? To have the goverment revoke your due process and remove fairness from the equation. Opi’…don’t you expect more from the system that could remove your freedom?

  109. Ira Tateu says:

    Sorry for the lack of proofing.

  110. Tom says:

    How many more times are we the people gonna be subjected to “cowboy” tactics by vice cops? many times they operate with little or no supervision and do as they please. Their supervisors turn a blind eye to them as long as they get results.
    This entire incident is a tragedy for TWO families and cannot be erased BUT the CPD can and MUST change the way raids are conducted. NOT attempt to sweep it under the rug and put the blame elsewhere.

  111. Vick2020 says:

    Intresting case.

    The prosecution is making up Ryan’s state of mind. Not just exaggerating but making stuff up. He wasn’t drug fueled nor in a rage, and that’s if you believe the cop that first interviewed him at the scene. For proof, all the prosecution has is jailhouse snitches. I’ll believe the cops testimony, audio and video before I believe career criminals. To believe the prosecution, you would have to ignore ALL of the empirical evidence and the officer that interviewed him.

    Dispite the outcome, we should note that the CPD was using a dishonest person as a paid informant. Dishonest enought that he stole would be evidence right out from under the cop’s noses when he was asked to verify said evidence. Having a dishonest past is very different that ripping the cops off when they asked you to do something else. Wright interfered with their investigation. Something’s wrong when you use informants that will rip you off.

    I don’t think the verdict will be the end of this case.

  112. Jumbo Jim says:

    In regard to writing legislation for executing a search warrant in a case like this one, and least destructive means, etc, how about including something as simple as calling the residence/accused and telling them they are being served a search warrant and they have 30 seconds to appear at the front door. If they don’t appear, then let the battering ram fly.

    I also think it should be mandatory that the police perform a controlled buy (or some similar method) to confirm “distribution.” When they go on the word of a snitch, they’re getting the worst of both worlds – someone who can’t be trusted by fellow criminals OR police/polite society.

  113. supercat says:

    In regard to writing legislation for executing a search warrant in a case like this one, and least destructive means, etc, how about including something as simple as calling the residence/accused and telling them they are being served a search warrant and they have 30 seconds to appear at the front door. If they don’t appear, then let the battering ram fly.

    A fixed time is a bad idea, given the variety of locations and circumstances. A cop who is conducting a search should be required to wait until he has an objectively reasonable belief that (1) he has done what he reasonably can to ensure that the occupant knows he is a cop with a search warrant, and (2) he will not gain entry in the particularly foreseeable future unless or until he breaks in (if the property is unoccupied and the officer has no idea when the occupant will return, the return of the occupant would not be ‘particularly foreseeable’ even though it would be likely the occupant would return sometime). Further, absent exigent circumstances, a cop conducting a search should be responsible for collecting and maintaining evidence of compliance.

    At the request of defense counsel, a jury should be allowed to consider whether the provided evidence adequately demonstrates that police conducted a search in reasonable fashion; juries should be told they have a right and duty not to construe against the defendant any evidence gained via an unreasonable search or seizure.

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