Day 7, January 28, 2009

Court convened at 10:00. Mr. Ebert opened the day by stating that he would be introducing the re-enactment video into evidence.

The jury was brought in at 10:05.

The first witness was Officer Richard Watts, who is the Custodian of the property and evidence room. Mr. Conway questioned him.

Officer Watts stated that all evidence is entered into the computer upon receipt, and that he had been working for Grover Davis (retired) forensics tech who gathered the evidence from Mr. Frederick’s house on 1/17/08. He also identified the battering ram used on the front door, and the pry bar (called a “hooligan”) that was brought along, just in case. There was no cross-examination, and Officer Watts was excused.

The next witness was Ms. Allison Milam, a forensic scientist who works for the Virginia Dept. of Forensic Science. Her duties include forensic examination and testing of tools and firearms. She was questioned by Mr. Conway.

She gave a report on the firearm evidence – the Bersa .380 pistol, two bullets, three casings, four cartridges and an empty .380 magazine. She also described the mechanics of the Bersa .380 pistol (Mr. Frederick’s weapon) to the jury.

After describing and identifying the various items of evidence, she stated that the spent bullet found in the house was fired by Mr. Frederick’s pistol; the bullet recovered from Detective Shivers was fired by Mr. Frederick’s pistol, the two casings found in the house were fired from Mr. Fredericks pistol, and the four cartridges found in the house had been manually ejected from a weapon (not fired) numerous times. The magazine had a capacity of 7 rounds. All of the bullets and cartridges were hollow points. The casing found in the yard was a .223 that did not come from the CPD (manufacturer and lot number did not match ammunition used by the CPD)..

Mr. Broccoletti cross-examined.

She stated that the pistol was a semi-automatic, and after it is cocked, it will fire as quickly as the trigger is pulled. The ammunition and weapon showed no evidence of jamming. She stated that the safety on the weapon was on the “fire” position and that this particular weapon requires an “Allen” wrench to switch the safety between the “fire” and “safe” positions. There was no “Allen” wrench included in the collected evidence, and no box of additional ammunition was found. Mr. Frederick’s pistol was not associated with any prior criminal activity. She said that her agency had not investigated to see if Mr. Frederick’s pistol had been obtained legally.

Ms Milam was excused.

The next witness was Dr. Elizabeth Kinnison, the Medical Examiner that performed Det. Shivers autopsy. She was questioned by Mr. Ebert..

Det. Shivers was killed by a single .380 hollow point round that passed thru the front of his upper left arm, puncturing the brachial artery. It entered the chest, broke a rib, punctured the pulmonary artery, damaged the left lung, and punctured the aorta. It was found slightly to the left of the spine. Additionally, he had superficial abrasions on the back of his head.

Mr. Broccoletti cross-examined.

Dr. Kinnison stated that there were no powder burns or “stippling” to indicate that Det. Shivers was shot from short range – the weapon had to have been at least 18 inches away.

It isn’t possible to determine the actual distance of the weapon when he was shot. Based on the estimated path of the bullet, his left arm would have had to be downward, close to his side. It could not have been extended away from his body either forward, up, sideways, or backward. It is possible that he could have been either crouching or kneeling when he was shot.

Dr. Kinnison was excused.

Court recessed at 11:50 so that the jury could go over and view the crime scene (Mr. Frederick’s home).

Court reconvened at 2:30.

The next witness was Det. Roberts.

(This was a result of the defense motion that the video for the re-enactment be viewed, and that Det. Roberts be cross-examined by the defense, regarding the video. When this issue was first raised, Mr. Eberts objected vehemently, stating that the re-enactment was a work product for the prosecutors, to familiarize them with the particulars of the raid, that there were no measurements taken or photographic evidence except the video, and wasn’t subject to discovery. The Judge disagreed, and said that the defense could show the video, and treat Det. Roberts as a hostile witness.)

Det. Roberts’ father passed away, earlier today, and Judge Arrington was concerned for Det. Roberts’ emotional state. He assured her that he was okay, and that his concerns about his father would not affect his demeanor, or his testimony.

Mr. Willett questioned him, briefly, regarding the date and purpose of the re-enactment.

He stated that he participated in the re-enactment, held in the evening of March 20, 2008, at 932 Redstart Ave., in Chesapeake. He said the purpose of the re-enactment, was to give a “ball park” view of the events of January 17, 2008 to the prosecutors, and to give them an idea of how CPD operated. He said it wasn’t intended to be an exact recreation and that there were several differences between the raid and the re-enactment;

The approach file was different,

they were more relaxed,

a different window was lighted,

there was a dark curtain in the window in the top of the door, and

the speed and order of the announcements was different.

Det Roberts also said that the raid was traumatic for everyone who had participated, that it was the most traumatic event he had ever experienced and that everyone “just wanted to get it done” and go back to their duties.

The video was showed both from the outside of the house aspect, and the inside of the house aspect. It appeared that they did several takes, trying to get it to a point that they were comfortable with. There were multiple flashes in the video, obviously from still cameras flashbulbs. They were also trying to determine exactly where Mr. Frederick was standing when he fired thru the hole, and hit Det. Shivers, using a laser light, and a length of string, stretching along a projected trajectory, ending at the shoulder of the officer who was representing Det. Shivers.

(Apparently, Mr. Ebert “forgot” these pesky little details, when he told the judge that during the re-enactment, no measurements were taken, and the only photographic record was the video itself. Hmm…).

The final take of the video seems to closely reflect the testimony of Detectives Roberts, Barone, Sgt. Chambers, Duncan, and Walker. Hmm…

After the video, Mr. Broccoletti cross-examined.

He questioned Det. Roberts about the several tries to get the knock and announces, the other shouts and warnings, and sequence of events to the point where they matched the testimony. He also asked why, if they weren’t looking for exact, did they have the exact people (except Shivers) the exact clothes, the exact lineup, the exact positions, the exact weapons, the exact van, exact placement of Shivers body and exact circumstances for the other team.

Det. Roberts response was essentially that the re-enactment was for the benefit of the prosecutors, and they were doing it the best way they could.

Det. Roberts was excused from further testimony. The prosecution rested its case.

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Mr. Korslund opened the defense case by submitting two motions to the court; reduction of the charge of Capital Murder to 2nd Degree Murder, and the Manufacturing with Intent to Distribute charge to simple Possession. The prosecution objected, and the Judge denied the motions.

A Sheriffs Department Lieutenant and two deputy’s were the next three witnesses – in regard to a complaint that Mr. Frederick had made about other inmates that had threatened Mr. Frederick. The Lieutenant said that he instructed the deputy’s to keep inmates from lingering around other inmates cells (in solitary) and the deputy’s said they told Mr. Frederick that he needed to contact Internal Affairs.

Mr. Broccoletti questioned one deputy (Deputy Cella) about whether or not there is a clock at the deputy station outside the gymnasium (to refute testimony by Jamal Skeeter, yesterday). The deputy said there was no clock there. He also asked if inmates were allowed to read newspapers, and the answer was that they were, during their one hour daily break.

The next witness was Thomas Ehret, who lives next door (right side as you face Mr. Frederick’s house, from the street). Mr. Broccoletti questioned him, and all the other witnesses.

Mr. Ehret said he works at the shipyard, has lived next door to Mr. Frederick for 24 years, and has known Mr. Frederick since Mr. Frederick was four years old.

He said that on 1/17/08 he saw and heard nothing unusual until he noticed red flashing lights from an ambulance pulling up in front of his house. He said he went outside, and saw someone lying on the ground in front of his house, and being administered to, by other people. He said he was pushed back inside by police, and that he saw “SWAT” members taking cover behind his and other cars. He said that after 11:00 p.m. he heard what he thought was a bullhorn “In the house at 932 Redstart – come out.”

He said that he began looking out the left front window of his house (which is closest to Mr. Frederick’s house) and saw Mr. Frederick being taken into custody, about ten minutes after he noticed the ambulance. He said he did not hear the police announce themselves.

I don’t believe he was cross-examined.

The next witness was Sandra Brooks who lives 6 houses down from Mr. Fredericks (right side as you face Mr. Frederick’s house, from the street).

Ms. Brooks said she drives a school bus for the Chesapeake Schools, and has lived in the neighborhood for three years. She said she doesn’t know Mr. Frederick.

She said that at about 8:30 p.m. on 1/17/08 she was on her front porch, and she heard a commotion like “neighbors arguing” (male voices). She said she walked down to the street, looked in the direction of the “commotion,” and saw someone being dragged, and heard someone screaming “We need a Med Tag!”

She said she was outside for 10 – 15 minutes talking with other neighbors, who were all trying to figure out what was going on. She said she heard nothing else from the time she saw the person being dragged to the time she saw Mr. Frederick come out and surrender. She said she saw Mr. Frederick being handcuffed. She said the SWAT team arrived about five minutes after Mr. Frederick was taken away. She said she heard no announcements from the police.

The next witness was Melba Taylor (I didn’t catch her address) who has lived in the neighborhood for 44 years, and has known Mr. Frederick for at least 15 years. She lives 3 doors from Mr. Frederick.

She said she looked out her window about 8:30 p.m. on 1/17/08 and saw someone lying in the front yard of the house next door to Mr. Frederick, and saw other people around this person. She said she heard nothing before that. After that she saw police cars coming into the neighborhood, and a commotion began. She said she heard no announcement by police.

Mr. Ebert cross-examined her. He asked if she heard or saw the ambulance arrive, and she said yes. She said she thought it was Mr. Frederick who had been injured.

The next witness was Richard Wick. He lives at 933 Redstart Ave., across the street from Mr. Frederick. He said he has seen Mr. Frederick, but doesn’t really know him. He works as a government contractor, and is married.

He said that at about 8:45 p.m. on 1/17/08, he heard a bang that he described as sounding like a shotgun, and looked out his window. He saw someone lying in the yard of the house next door to Mr. Frederick’s house. He said up to that time, he had never seen anything unusual at Mr. Frederick’s house. He said he did not hear the police announce themselves.

The next witness was John McReynolds. He lives at 924 Redstart Ave – two doors down from Mr. Frederick (right side, as you face Mr. Frederick’s house, from the street). He said he works at the shipyard, has lived in the neighborhood for four years, and has known Mr. Frederick, casually for that time.

He said that on 1/17/08 he was in his bedroom and his dog was with him, when he heard a loud Bam and then two faint bams and his dog started going crazy. He said he told his dog to hush, and it wouldn’t, which was unusual, and it annoyed him. He said he looked out the window, and saw police everywhere, and saw someone laying in the front yard, next door (the house between his house, and Mr. Frederick’s house). He said he went back to the den to tell his wife, then went to the front door to go outside, and was told by police to go back inside. He said that prior to all this, he heard no police announcement. He continued looking out his window, saw SWAT arrive, and many police cars.

The next witness was Lori McReynolds. She is the wife of John McReynolds, and lives at 924 Redstart Ave. She is a bus driver, and has known Mr. Frederick for 10 – 15 years.

She said her husband came to the den (she was watching TV) and told her about a commotion outside, so she went to the front window, and saw someone lying on the ground next door. She said her husband opened the front door and a police officer told him “officer shot – please go back inside.”

Mr. Ebert cross-examined her. He asked where she was in the house and she answered “in the den.” He asked if she had filed a report with the police, and she answered yes, and they established that the report was filed with the lead Detective, Thomas.

The next witness was Ms. Barbara Patrick. I didn’t catch the name of her company (located in Norfolk) but she was Mr. Frederick’s employer from June 2007 until January, 2008.

Ms. Patrick stated in essence that Mr. Frederick was an excellent employee, who was well liked and respected by everyone. He has a good reputation as a peaceful and honest person, who was frequently complimented by customers of her company as a good worker.

At the end of the day, Mr. Korslund reminded Judge Arrington about an unresolved issue. He wants to enter a map (either as an exhibit or evidence) depicting the robberies and homicides that have taken place within a three-mile radius of Mr. Frederick’s house, and within the last 12 months. This would serve as an indication of the high level of violent crime in that area of Chesapeake, as a basis for Mr. Frederick having a reasonable fear of a home invasion.

Mr. Conway objects to this. Judge Arrington hasn’t said no, but she expressed a concern about the three-mile radius. She said she would give her decision first thing, tomorrow.

Court recessed at 5:46.

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2 Responses to Day 7, January 28, 2009

  1. […] Frederick Trial, Day 7, Being There I will post John Wilburn’s account as soon as I receive it with a link […]

  2. Jumbo Jim says:

    Regarding the testimony of Ms Milam:
    Ms. Allison Milam, is a forensic scientist who works for the Virginia Dept of Forensic Science. Her duties include forensic examination and testing of tools and firearms. According to the posting above, she stated that the safety on the weapon was on the “fire” position and that this particular weapon requires an “Allen” wrench to switch the safety between the “fire” and “safe” positions. There was no “Allen” wrench included in the collected evidence, and no box of additional ammunition was found.
    Now, I’m no gun expert, but when I read this, I found it hard to believe that any pistol would require an “allen wrench” to change a safety from safe and fire. So I looked up the Bursa 380, and sure enough, this gun (like most semi-automatics) has a thumb-safety lever that easily switches the gun from “safe” to “fire” with the flick of one’s thumb. ADDITIONALLY, this gun has a built-in trigger-lock device which uses a circular Bersa internal key lock. This is for those who like to use such devices to secure the weapon from firing, for long-term storage, etc. But nowhere is an “Allen” wrench used for any type of safety feature on this gun.
    It’s possible that Ms. Milam’s testimony was simply misrepresented here in this written account. But if this account is accurate, it makes me wonder about her experience and expertise. And although this error might not be vital to the case, it makes me wonder just how many other errors are being perpetrated by the state and its witnesses.
    To see the trigger lock, safety, and other features of the Bersa 380, go to: http://www.gunblast.com/Bersa_380CC.htm

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