Drug Policy

No Death Penalty for Ryan Frederick

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Special Prosecutor Paul Ebert announced yesterday that he won't seek the death penalty against Ryan Frederick, the Chesapeake, Virginia man who killed a police detective during a botched drug raid last January.

Ebert said Frederick's lack of any prior criminal record and the fact that he shot just once would make it difficult to prove the aggravated battery necessary to get a death sentence.

Of course, both of those facts are also pretty good indicators that Frederick didn't intend to kill Det. Jarrod Shivers in the first place.

Stangely, Ebert cited Frederick's age as another reason he has decided not to seek the death penalty. Frederick is 28.

Prior coverage of the Frederick case here.

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  1. Last time I checked, getting shot at came with the badge! Why arent the other cops being charged as accessories, they were part of BUSTING this guys doors in! I would LOVE to sit on that Jury, this guy would WALK scott free if it were up to me.

    JT
    http://www.FireMe.To/udi

  2. Ebert’s case is falling apart. Good.

  3. Now c’mon. 28 is an age.

  4. [Special prosecutor Paul Ebert] said there has been much speculation about the case and that the public will be surprised by the facts when they come out during the trial.

    No kidding. We all eagerly await the opportunity to review these “facts”.

    police returned with a second search warrant and seized … a Samsung TV

    Wha? Guess they needed an upgrade in the CPD lounge.

  5. I hope this is a bit of CYA on the part of the prosecutor.

  6. nothing strange about using his age as a reason not to kill him….the DP process is so long they probably don’t want to pay to keep him in prison for all the years it will take to clear up his appeals. Now a 90 year old man….

  7. Nice, throw a little doubt in the jury’s mind about how confident you feel about your case. Thanks, you incompetent douche.

  8. I see this as good news for Frederick’s defense, for the same reason Radley said… the prosecutor basically, in throwing out the option to seek the death penalty, would make it extremely difficult to get a murder charge to stick (so long as that statement is allowed to be heard by a jury). He could still be on the hook for involuntary manslaughter (or, depending on how Virginia’s criminal law works, possibly as high as Murder 2… but I know nothing of Virginia crim law), but these statements by the Special Prosecutor look as though they may put the most severe charges behind Mr. Frederick.

    It still does not, however, change the fact that a police officer died in the line of duty due to reckless zeal on the part of the Chesapeake PD or that another man has effectively had his life destroyed by these same actions.

  9. Yes, Mr. Persecutor, I’m sure we’ll all be very surprised by the lies the cops cook up to justify this.

  10. This will help Frederick get a fair trial, because the prosecutor will not be able to “death qualify” the jury: he won’t be able to strike potential jurors who express qualms about the death penalty during the jury selection process. Studies have shown that “death qualified” juries–panels from which death penalty opponents have been excluded–are more likely to convict.

  11. jbd,
    Virginia bifurcates their guilt and penalty phases for criminal trials, so the death peanlty/no death penalty question should not come up in voir dire. That doesn’t mean the prosecution won’t try to bring it up anyway though.

  12. What’s your sense, Radley? Are the prosecutors looking for a way out, or is it full steam ahead?

  13. A small piece of good news. I do note that Ryan is still being held without bond and still faces life in prison. Please excuse me if I don’t break out the champagne just yet.

    REMEMBER KATHRYN JOHNSTON!

  14. John Thomas-

    Mega jury nullification dittoes. No person should have to endure this abuse-if an agent of the state attempts to break into one’s home, the agent deserves a dirt nap. Civilization is better served when state actors know that there are consequences for invading the private property of others.

  15. Where are my manners this morning? Thanks for the update Mr. Balko.

  16. I hope Jarrod Shivers family sues the pants off of the CPD.

  17. In other news, the people of Virginia WILL seek the death penalty for the police and prosecutor who have done this to one of their fellow citizens.

  18. If this were merry olde england, where the victim (or family) hires a prosecutor and brings charges, it would be interesting to see who the Shivers family would be going after.

  19. robc,
    How do consensual crimes get prosecuted in England if the victim has to be the one who initiates prosecution?

  20. Studies have shown that “death qualified” juries–panels from which death penalty opponents have been excluded–are more likely to convict.

    That smells of post hoc ergo propter hoc. Higher conviction rates in death penalty cases could also be due to the fact that prosecutors did not pursue the death penalty in cases with flimsier evidence. You know, like this one.

  21. Depending on the viewpoints of the jurors this could potentially help the prosecution. It’s just a matter of framing it such that it appears that he’s being reasonable and lenient, rather than has a weak position.

  22. Randolph Carter,

    I was talking about England of 300 or so years ago. Hence the olde. They currently use the same system we do.

    As far as consensual crime prosecution in 17th century
    England? Yeah, exactly.

  23. Randolph Carter,

    Also, I dont know that the victim HAD to be the one to initiate prosecution, but generally no one else would care enough to do it.

    I guess you could get some moral busybody organization collecting money and going around funding prosecutions too.

  24. From some google searching:


    The modern version of the professional prosecutor likely derives from the European practice of vesting one office with the power to conduct criminal prosecutions. In England, private parties could prosecute other private parties until the eighteenth century, but English statutes creating the office of public prosecutor existed as far back as the mid-sixteenth century. In colonial America all 13 colonies established the office and position of attorney general. The colony’s attorney general was charged with prosecuting crimes committed within the colony. Private prosecutions were carried out at times, but private prosecution ended around the beginning of the American Revolution in the 1770s. Historians have attributed the rise of the public prosecutor to the cost associated with private prosecutions. Few persons in colonial America had the time or resources to prosecute an alleged criminal.

  25. Is there a chance we could do some jury nullification leafleting? If someone smarter than I put something together, I’d print out a few hundred copies and stick them in mailboxes and cars around the courthouse.

    Seems like a good way to get the message out.

  26. I don’t know is educating considered “jury tampering” and therefore a crime?

    Probably.

  27. I’d print out a few hundred copies and stick them in mailboxes and cars around the courthouse.

    Which would be a federal crime. Hang ’em on folk’s doors and you’ll be OK. Only U.S. Mail, delivered by the USPS is permitted in mailboxes.

  28. Odds are, though, that anybody who had received such a leaflet would be excused from the jury selection pool…

  29. if anybody who got a leaflet would be excused from the jury pool then it’s especially important to target your leaflets towards undesirable potential jurors

  30. There is no need to bring jury nullification into this.

    If the prosecution cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that Frederick acted with knowledge that he was shooting at a policeman and not an invading criminal, then this would be an ‘excusable homicide’ under Virginia law.

    How Ebert proposes to do that without expert testimony by a psychic is beyond me.

  31. “””This will help Frederick get a fair trial, because the prosecutor will not be able to “death qualify” the jury: he won’t be able to strike potential jurors who express qualms about the death penalty during the jury selection process.”””

    What are you talking about? It’s southern Virginia, even the christians are pro death penalty. 🙂

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