Day 9 January 30, 2009

Court convened at 8:50. Mr. Conway and Mr. Willett arrived at 8:55. Mr. Conway stated that Mr. Ebert would be here at 9:00. Mr. Broccoletti and Mr. Korslund were already present, along with their assistant. Judge Arrington stated that she thought that she had specified, yesterday, that the jury was to be in by 9:00, the attorneys were to be in by 8:30. Mr. Ebert arrived at 8:58.

Mr. Frederick was scheduled to complete his testimony from yesterday, and there was some discussion about Mr. Broccoletti conferring with his client, prior to his Re-direct questioning of Mr. Frederick. Mr. Broccoletti made a motion for the jury to be permitted to hear the audio tape of the first interview of Mr. Frederick, which was conducted by Detective Winkelspect at the scene, in the back of a police car, and also to view the video recording of the second interview of Mr. Frederick, by Detectives Thomas and Downing, at police headquarters.

Court was recessed at 9:02 and reconvened at 9:12. Judge Arrington granted the motion, and allowed him 10 minutes to confer with Mr. Frederick before the Re-direct. Court Recessed at 9:18 and reconvened at 9:30. The jury was brought in, and Mr. Frederick retook the stand. Mr. Broccoletti questioned him.

Mr. Frederick stated that he had never shot his gun except at the range (prior to the raid), read High Times magazine the same way he read any other magazine, and didn’t agree with legalizing marijuana. He said that he owned many books on horticulture, in addition to the books on growing marijuana. He said he had been growing marijuana for about a year.

He heard a knock on his door, the night of the raid, and his dogs barking loudly and aggressively alerted him to danger. He said he never saw the battering ram, and he did see an arm come thru the hole in his door.

He said that when he was interviewed in the police car (by Det. Winkelspect), he told him that he heard a knock, saw an arm, and saw a face. He also told him that he heard the sound of wood splintering, and definitely saw someone peeking through the hole in his door, and saw someone else in blue jeans behind the peeking face. He said that at that point he pointed his gun and shot, because as he came up the hall from his bedroom, someone broke thru his door and he thought he was going to be killed.

The Audio Tape of his first interview was played. It was obvious from the tape that he was in a near-panic – upset, afraid, confused and not understanding what had just happened. This interview started about 10 minutes after the shooting. He mentioned that his garage had been broken into, and Det. Winkelspect said “We know about that.”

With the exception of mentioning an arm reaching thru the hole (there was no mention of this on the tape), his testimony yesterday and today reflected what was on the tape.

Next, the video of the second interview, with Detectives Thomas and Downing was shown. Mr. Ryan was wearing pajama bottoms, a red Coca Cola T-shirt, and one (right) shoe. He put his arms inside his shirt, complaining of being cold.

Detective Downing was very clear in explaining the Miranda rights to Mr. Frederick. Both Detectives were very reasonable of their treatment of him. Det Downing did most of the talking. Mr. Frederick told them that he heard knocking, and his dogs started barking very loudly. His statements on the video reflected his testimony of yesterday and today.

He was asked by Det. Downing if he was high, and he said no.. Det. Downing responded that he didn’t appear to be high. Mr. Frederick said that he smoked pot, and stated when asked that he’d had a bong hit 4 to 5 hours earlier. He also said that he had a prescription for, and took Zanax, and that he had taken his regular prescription amount that evening.

He stated that he had heard knocking, had not heard any announcements by the police; saw a face thru the hole in his door and dark clothing on the person. He said that he thought that he shot twice, and that his gun jammed. He went back to his bedroom to find his phone, but couldn’t find it. He said that he was very shaken up, and couldn’t get his gun to work.

He said that he had bought the gun for protection, because he was small and fears for his safety. When he couldn’t find his phone, he went out to the living room, to see if maybe his neighbors were outside. He looked out the hole in his door, and heard “Police, come out with your hands up.” He put down the gun, slipped his shoes on, and went outside with his hands up.

He got down on the ground, and police began yelling at him to stop resisting – he said he was apologizing – and told him to shut up. He was told that he had shot a police officer. He was obviously upset and remorseful for what he had done. As he did in court, yesterday, he expressed his regret for what he had done and the desire to tell his side of the story.

Det. Downing again told him that he had the right to not answer any more questions, and to have an attorney present. At one point, he threw up; stating that he had never been in a situation such as this before, and was pretty shook. He said he had no family around. Det. Downing told him he understood his confusion, and lack of understanding of the circumstances.

He kept stating that he had never dealt with a situation like this before, and Det. Downing assured him that he would have a lawyer to help him. He asked why the police had broken down his door and was told that they were serving a search warrant. In the video, be got up from the chair, pushed it under the table, and sat on the floor. Mr. Broccoletti asked him why he did this, and he said that he was cold and shaken up – very emotional.

He said that he’d been up since 3:45 that morning (this interview started at 10:50 that night, and ended at 1:00 a.m.). Mr. Broccoletti asked why he only had one shoe, and he said that when he walked down the steps as he came out of the house with his hands up, he slipped on the bottom step and lost his (left) shoe.

He stated that he remembered being at this interview, but isn’t real clear about what transpired – he was having an anxiety attack.. On the video, he told the Detectives that he thought that he had left his gun on the floor of his bedroom (he had actually dropped it in the living room – the magazine that he had ejected, was in the bedroom). He stated on the video that he wanted to cooperate as fully as he could with the police, because “that was the right thing to do.”

He said after the video was shown, that he felt terrible for having killed someone, and wanted to cooperate fully, but that he would have wanted to have an attorney present. He said that the diagram that he drew, very badly, and the poor handwriting in his written statement were not intended to mislead, but were because of the state of mind that he was in at the time.

He said the only thing he did to mislead them, was not admit anything about the pot plants.

Mr. Willett cross-examined him.

Mr. Frederick stated that he was right-handed (writes with his right hand). He shot thru the hole in the door while he was in the living room. The statement about the arm coming thru the hole was true. He said that he wanted throughout the entire time, to cooperate with the authorities.

Mr. Willett suggested that he had been “partially” successful; Mr. Frederick agreed, acknowledging that he hadn’t been honest about the pot plants. Mr. Willett suggested that it was possible for him to have lied about the shooting. Mr. Frederick said that yes, it was possible, but that he hadn’t lied.

Mr. Willett ended by saying that yesterday was the first time that he had mentioned what parts of the face were seen (nose, open mouth and chin) and about the arm reaching thru the hole.

Mr. Frederick was told he could step down.

Mr. Broccoletti described how he intended to question the attorney’s regarding the matter with Jamal Skeeter (professional, not credible, witness), and Mr. Ebert didn’t object. Mr. Willett objected to questioning Mr. Mobley, Commonwealths Attorney from Portsmouth, about a letter he sent to Mr. Slaughter, Commonwealths Attorney in Norfolk. (Mr. Mobley was never questioned, so it was a moot point).

Recess at 11:00, reconvened at 11:05. Jury brought in.

Next witness is Jamal Skeeter. Mr. Broccoletti questioned him.

Mr. Skeeter immediately started complaining about his name and picture being in the newspaper, and on TV. He wanted the press removed from the courtroom. Judge Arrington refused. He stated that he didn’t want to answer any more questions. Mr. Broccoletti told him that he had no choice.

Mr. Broccoletti began the questioning, by asking Mr. Skeeter if he was a “professional witness.” Mr. Skeeter asked what he meant. Mr. Broccoletti asked if he had offered to testify about various cases, for various prosecutors, and Mr. Skeeter acknowledged that he had, a few times..

Mr. Broccoletti showed Mr. Skeeter a stack of letters that Mr. Skeeter had written to various attorneys, asking if he had written them.. Some he admitted to, some he didn’t, even though those letters were written in his handwriting, with his name, prisoner number, and address on the envelope.

He suggested that in prison, other inmates knew your information, and suggested that other inmates were writing letters on his behalf, using his name and information (and handwriting).

In one letter, he offered to testify against Michael Vick. In another, he offered testimony against an individual who had shot a police officer in Portsmouth. In another he filed a complaint against his attorney, for not requesting an appeal, for a case in which he had pled guilty. Mr. Broccoletti explained to him, that when you plead guilty, you’re not entitled to an appeal.

Mr. Skeeter, on several more occasions, refused to answer questions. Mr. Broccoletti and Judge Arrington both told him that he had no choice; at one point, Judge Arrington told him that he was ordered by the court, to answer questions. His response was “how can this court order me to answer questions?” Her response was to look at him, sort of like a she-tiger, contemplating lunch…

(The lady has the patience of a saint. I was honestly expecting her to tell one of the deputies to go ahead and shoot him, and be done with it.)

He answered all remaining questions, although it was clear that he wasn’t as cocky as he was a couple days ago.

He did tell Mr. Broccoletti, at one point, that since he hadn’t gotten anything, for testifying in this case, that the other stuff had nothing to do with it. Mr. Broccoletti remarked that Mr. Skeeter seemed to know a great deal about how the legal system works.

Mr. Skeeter repeated that he didn’t want his name and picture in the news; he was “concerned” about his safety. I guess some of his roomies at the correctional center in Lawrenceville can read, and are allowed to read the paper…

He continued to confirm letters, and Mr. Broccoletti asked him if he “was a professional witness yet.” It was nice to see Mr. Broccoletti enjoying himself…

Mr. Ebert cross-examined, and brought out one instance, where Mr. Skeeter had won an appeal because of a “timely file” issue (His attorney hadn’t filed some paperwork by the deadline.)

Mr. Skeeter was excused.

Next witness was Glenda Frye, who is a supervisor at the Public Defenders Office, in Portsmouth. She had been Mr. Skeeters Attorney for several of his “indiscretions.” She was the attorney that he had complained about, over not filing an appeal. Her initial testimony was heard out of the juries hearing, because some legal concerns needed to be addressed.

She said that Mr. Skeeter had no current outstanding charges. There had been a motion filed to quash (silence) any testimony from her office, for or against Mr. Skeeter. Apparently, Mr. Skeeter has found himself a new attorney, a Mr. Wiggins. He does not represent Mr. Skeeter for this particular case.

Selected letters have been submitted to the attorneys (Mr. Broccoletti, Mr. Ebert) from Mr. Skeeters file; these were the letters that Mr. Broccoletti was questioning Mr. Skeeter about. Not all of the letters were written by Mr. Skeeter, some were written to Mr. Skeeter, or about Mr. Skeeter, to other attorneys. One such letter was written to Mr. Skeeter, from Ms. Frye, explaining that since he is now in the jurisdiction of the DoC (Department of Corrections), the Circuit Court has no authority to “make adjustments” to his sentence. Apparently, he doesn’t accept that, and keeps writing letters…

Ms. Frye re-took the stand and testified that Mr. Skeeter has been represented by 2 other attorneys in her office; Mr. Sadler & Mr.. Johnson. Mr. Skeeter has made at least 10 to 15 offers to attorneys in her office to give testimony against various defendants in various cases. He has also made offers to other attorneys, in other offices. She stated that her office has never called upon him, as a witness.

She said that a Mr. Andrew Wiggins (whom she does not know) faxed a letter to her office on 1/29/09, requesting a copy of Mr. Skeeters file, as he has been retained by Mr. Skeeter. An additional letter received from Mr. Wiggins narrows down specific areas of his representation of Mr. Skeeter, and states a blanket objection to any information released about Mr. Skeeter.

(It sounds to me like he intends to sue the news media. It’s always nice to meet an optimist…)

Mr. Ebert cross-examined. Ms. Frye told him that Mr. Skeeter is unhappy about the result of cases he has offered to testify for – wants sentence reduced, even though he is under DoC jurisdiction, and the Public Defenders Office can do nothing for him. He keeps writing letters…

Mr. Ebert mentioned that is a normal practice for prosecutors to use the testimony of inmates in criminal cases. He stated that normally, these inmates are interviewed to determine their viability…

Court recessed at 12:57 for lunch, reconvened at 2:10.

Mr. Korslund re-opened the matter of the map depicting robberies and homicides within a 3 mile radius of Mr. Frederick’s neighborhood, within the 12 months prior to 1/17/09.

Mr. Conway objected, stating that it covered too large an area – the judge agreed. Motion was denied. Again.

Jury brought in at 2:30.

Next witness is Mr. Ed Ferriers, who is a Deputy Commonwealths Attorney, working in the Commonwealths Attorneys Office in Portsmouth, for Mr. Earl Mobley. Mr. Ferriers said that he has prosecuted Mr. Skeeter in several cases, and that Mr. Skeeter is currently serving a combined 14 year sentence, for 4 different crimes.

He is aware that Mr. Skeeter has contacted several jurisdictions, offering to be a witness in several cases; he learned on 1/28/09 that Mr. Skeeter had been accepted as a witness in this case, and had immediately contacted Mr. Broccoletti.

The prosecution declined to cross-examine him, and he was excused.

Next witness was Lori McReynolds, who lives at 924 Redstart Ave (neighbor of Mr. Frederick).

Mr. Ebert questioned her.

She said that Mr. Frederick had contacted her on 1/16/08 and told her that his garage had been broken into, and didn’t know if anything was missing. He asked if she had seen anything; she told him she hadn’t. On 1/17/08, he told her that he thought he knew who did it, as he had found a keychain belonging to his fiancée’s sister’s ex-boyfriend.

Mr. Broccoletti cross-examined her. She said she had asked other neighbors if they had seen anything, because she was concerned; they all told her they hadn’t.

She was excused.

Next witness was Aaron Curley, who was one of the 4 participants in the burglary of Mr. Frederick’s garage.

There was another legal issue to be decided, so the jury was asked to step out.

(At this point I developed a nose-bleed, so I had to go deal with it – no doubt from having spent entirely too much time in the same room with these three, “gentlemen” from Prince William County…) (Dr. Tabor let me know what happened – the judge allowed the prosecution to put Mr. Curley on the stand…)

The jury was brought back in, and Mr. Curley took the stand..

Mr. Ebert questioned him.

Mr. Curley reiterated that he, Renaldo Turnbull, Robert Eckland, and Steven Wright drove over to Mr. Frederick’s house on 1/14/08, and Mr. Turnbull and Mr. Wright stole 5 marijuana plants from Mr. Frederick’s garage. A phone call was first placed by Wright, to Mr. Frederick, to see if he was home.. He didn’t answer, so they went forward with the burglary. Either that day, or the day after, Renaldo Turnbull received a call from Mr. Frederick. The 4 of them were in Mr. Eckland’s car, and the phone rang. Mr. Curley said that Mr. Frederick had been “ringing Mr. Turnbull’s phone off the Hook.”

Mr. Turnbull told Mr. Wright “I don’t know the guy, you deal with it,” so he laid the phone on the seat, in speaker mode, and they heard Mr. Frederick say, “I had to go to a lot of trouble to get rid of my stuff. I know you and the black guy took my plants. You have a week to turn yourself in, or I’ll come find you. I know where you work, and I know where you live.” Mr. Wright‘s response was that if Mr. Frederick continued to threaten him, he (Wright) would take steps to deal with him (Frederick) (or words to that effect). He said that Mr. Frederick’s response was, “if the police come, I’ve got something for them, too.”

Mr. Broccoletti cross-examined. He asked him that since Mr. Wright testified that the burglary took place on Friday, the 11th, and he (Curley) had testified that the burglary took place on Monday, the 14th, did that mean that there were 2 burglaries?

Mr. Curley stated that Mr. Turnbull and he were brought back to Great Bridge to his (Curleys) home, the night of the burglary, by Mr. Eckland, and that Mr. Turnbull stayed for dinner, and that they took Mr. Turnbull to the Chesapeake Police station, the following day.<

Mr. Broccoletti asked if any of them had reported these threats to the police – No.

He asked if it was true that Mr. Curley, when questioned about the burglary, denied that he was involved – yes, he denied being involved.

Mr. Ebert Re-directed.

Mr. Curley identified a picture of Mr. Frederick’s house as the one where the burglary took place.

Mr. Curley was excused.

Next witness was Det. Barone, who was the breacher for the front entry team.

Mr. Conway questioned him. He stated that he had had 8 hours of training in how to breach a door with a battering ram, at the Chesapeake Police Academy. He identified a picture (and showed his position) of the “stack” of officers in the raid at Mr. Frederick’s house (picture was from the re-enactment). He testified that on the first attempt, the ram went thru the door, and dislodged the panel of the door, resulting in a large opening in the door, but that the door remained closed. He said that training dictates that if the first hit doesn’t open the door, hit it again; they’re not trained to reach thru holes.

He stated that the entry way is referred to as “the fatal funnel” because it is the place where team members are most vulnerable, so it’s necessary to get the door opened as quickly as possible, so that the entry stack can get in and secure the scene, to reduce the risk, to the entire team.

He stated that he did not kneel, and that he was the closest person to the door. He said he didn’t get a chance to hit the door again, because he heard a gunshot about one second after he hit the door the first time.

He said he did not see Det. Shivers come on the porch, or stick his arm thru the hole in the door. He said no one knelt and put their face near the hole.

Mr. Broccoletti cross-examined.

Det. Barone said that his attention was on the front door, and that Det. Shivers was the point man, or the first man to go thru the door, once it was breached.

Detective Barone was excused.

The jury was asked to step out. Mr. Broccoletti had phone records to show that only one call was made to Mr. Turnbull’s phone by Mr. Frederick’s phone, and only one call was received by Mr. Turnbull’s phone from Mr. Frederick’s phone.

This is to impeach Mr. Curley’s testimony that Mr. Frederick was “ringing Mr. Turnbull’s phone off the hook.”

The Judge ruled that Mr. Broccoletti can include the phone records as evidence, in his closing arguments.

Court recessed at 4:42, and will reconvene on Monday, 2 February, 2009 at 1:00 p.m.

Editors note: for the sake of continuity, please post comments at main blog post

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One Response to Day 9 January 30, 2009

  1. […] Frederick Trial, Day 9 I will post JohnWilburn’s detailed account as soon as I receive it, in whole or in […]

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