Drug Policy

The Ryan Frederick Trial: More Fun With Informants

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Ryan Frederick is the 28-year-old Chesapeake, Virginia man facing murder charges for killing a police officer during a drug raid (see this wiki for more on Frederick's case). Prior coverage of his trial here

Last week, I posted on how one of Special Prosecutor Paul Ebert's fellow commonwealth's attorneys actually called Ryan Frederick's attorney James Broccoletti in mid-trial to tell him that one of the jailhouse informants Ebert called to the stand was so unreliable, other prosecutors in the state had ceased using him.

As part of Frederick's defense last week, Broccoletti called that informant, Jamal Skeeter, back to the stand. It was an embarrassing display for the state, and raises questions about whether Ebert did the minimum due diligence to verify that his witness wasn't lying.

From the Virginian-Pilot:

Jailhouse informant Jamal Skeeter's credibility took more hits at the Ryan Frederick murder trial this morning, as a defense attorney introduced about 30 letters Skeeter wrote to various authorities offering his assistance in homicides, police shootings and even the Michael Vick dogfighting investigation.

Called back to the witness stand, Skeeter didn't deny that he's a "professional witness." But he denied writing some of the letters, even though acknowledging they were in his handwriting with his name on the envelope…

When Skeeter entered the courtroom, he initially refused to answer any questions, saying his safety was in jeopardy. He also tried to order the removal of the media. The judge refused and ordered him to testify.

NEXT: Kerry Dougherty Makes Fat Jokes

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  1. I hope Mr Skeeter receives the informal justice of the jailhouse in a slow but final manner.
    Fucking POS.

    1. How can this language pass inspection? I got flagged the other day on a news story comment for using the word – stupid.

  2. his safety was in jeopardy

    One can only hope…………

  3. Same judge who let the preposterous weight-factor into the court? At least he seems consistent in excluding no testimony.

  4. I posted on how one of Special Prosecutor Paul Ebert’s fellow commonwealth’s attorneys actually called Ryan Frederick’s attorney James Broccoletti in mid-trial to tell him that one of the jailhouse informants Ebert called to the stand was so unreliable, other prosecutors in the state had ceased using him.

    Stopped using him. How many trails has this guy testified in? Jeebus, even a career criminal will only be in court a handful of times his entire life. Does this guy just hang around jail cells killing time?

    How often do prosecutors use serial snitches? It might behoove someone to run an analysis of witness list to see how often these chance conversations in jails happen to the same people over and over again.

  5. The true enemy is the war on drugs.

  6. At least he seems consistent in excluding no testimony.

    Indeed. The very first witness for the prosecution was Det. Shivers widow. Honestly, if I was on that jury and that was how the prosecutor started his case, I’d be thinking is this all you got?

  7. Hey Radley, what happened to Turnbull – he didn’t get called for the prosecution or the defense as far as I can tell. What’s up with that?

  8. @anarch,

    Not that it’s tremendously important, but me thinks the judge in this case is a lady.

    I’ve also read a lot from the Tidewater folks who are actually in the court room that the judge is acting fairly for the most part. Given the circumstances, it’s probably the best we can hope for. The fact that few of us even know the sex of the judge is a testimante to the way she’s handling the case – acting like an impartial referee instead of schilling for the prosecution. That’s better than I expected.

  9. A woman, perhaps. Whether a lady remains to be seen, and the weight-gain gawk suggests otherwise.

  10. Honestly, if I was on that jury and that was how the prosecutor started his case, I’d be thinking is this all you got?

    …which is why you’re not on this jury. Looking at the trial from the standpoint of a reasonable critical thinker is not helpful for understanding how the members of the typical jury see it.

  11. Just a question that maybe someone can answer without me reading all 160+ posts from the weight gain thread – is there going to be a campaign to contact the Virginian Pilot management about their really incredibly stupid columnist? Seriously, they must not be keeping an eye on the difference between opinion and totally-fucking stupid.

  12. I don’t genuinely despise Mr. Skeeter, I pity him. As a captive of the state for whatever the hell he did, he is little more than a product of the system — stripped of much of his humanity.

    If you lock a rat in a cage, and only give them one route to the cheese, they’ll take that route every time.

  13. Just a question that maybe someone can answer without me reading all 160+ posts from the weight gain thread – is there going to be a campaign to contact the Virginian Pilot management about their really incredibly stupid columnist? Seriously, they must not be keeping an eye on the difference between opinion and totally-fucking stupid.

    Reinmoose,

    I wrote her the following email yesterday:

    Ms. Dougherty,

    Please get a fucking clue before you publish baseless accusations like the ones you made in your recent piece regarding the trial of Mr. Frederick.

    Good Day,

    Last night, she responded simply with:

    Nice language.

    Picasso with a pen she is not…

  14. Taktix,
    I feel like writing her too.

    I just can’t believe the level of stupid you have to be in order to say something like “He said his overeating is stress-related, yet conceded that stress on the night of the shooting caused him to vomit several times.”

    Do you think sarcasm would be lost on her?

  15. From the Virginia Pilot article is this quote:

    “In court, as he had testified earlier, Frederick admitted that he lied to the detectives that night about his marijuana-growing operation and failed to tell them that some plants had been stolen days earlier. Frederick also said he saw a face and then a hand reach through the hole in his front door.”

    The author does not elaborate on the lie. What did Frederick lie about? Did he actually sell MJ? Were some MJ plants stolen?
    I missed any previous mention of him actually having or growing MJ plant.

  16. But he denied writing some of the letters, even though acknowledging they were in his handwriting

    Sweet. That should do it for his credibility.

    And jurors fucking hate being lied to. A trial attorney’s worst nightmare is a jury that is mad at him/his client.

  17. “””The author does not elaborate on the lie. What did Frederick lie about? Did he actually sell MJ? Were some MJ plants stolen?
    I missed any previous mention of him actually having or growing MJ plant.”””

    He lied about growing pot. He admitted on the stand that he was growing pot in his garage, some of his plants were stolen, he destroyed the remaining plants, and knew it was Wright that stole them.

  18. “””Sweet. That should do it for his credibility.”””

    And the other jailhouse snitch’s credibility too. They testified about Fredrick knowingly killed a cop. I’m not sure how much that will matter. It will make the prosecution look like chumps but Frederick admitted growing and killed a cop. I don’t think the prosecution proved murder, but it will be interesting to see how the jury rules. Pot grower kills cop is often enough. I’m still curious if the jury has lesser charges available to them. Anyone know?

  19. Hmm, is there any chance that Ryan Frederick will get off?

  20. He lied about growing pot. He admitted on the stand that he was growing pot in his garage, some of his plants were stolen, he destroyed the remaining plants, and knew it was Wright that stole them.

    That rather changes the nature of the case.

    A law abiding individual has no expectation of a police raid and can credibly claim that believed it more likely they were being attacked by criminals rather the police. Someone growing pot, however, must always know that they can expect a police raid at anytime.

    Common sense does suggest the Frederick did believe he was being targeted by criminals because there is no way a single individual can expect to win against the police. However, he also had to know that his criminal activities made him a target for other criminals. He was primed to respond violently to any criminals attempting to steal the fruits of his own crimes. In the heat of the moment he chose to react as if faced by criminals and mistakenly shot the officer instead.

    But that is a much different story than a law abiding person shooting a cop. People who break laws, even foolish laws, have a moral and legal responsibility for even the unintended consequences of those crimes.

  21. One of the most stupid elements of the case goes to the CPD who’s paid informant blew the pot raid by stealing some of the plants when they asked him to verify their presence, which caused the target of the raid to destroy the rest of the would be evidence.

    I’m curious as to who Frederick thought was at the door breaking in. He knew Wright broke into his garage. He knew his neighborhood had many break-ins with, I think, one fatality. If he looked out the window he saw a dark van in front of his house. Speaking of evidence the Judge didn’t allow, that’s one. The defense wanted to present evidence of break-in within a 3 mile radius of Frederick’s house, the judge denied. I doubt Frederick thought it was the cops. Did he think it was Wright and some friends returning, someone else, or just didn’t know?

  22. “””But that is a much different story than a law abiding person shooting a cop. People who break laws, even foolish laws, have a moral and legal responsibility for even the unintended consequences of those crimes.”””

    True, I vaguely remember SCOTUS, probably Scalia, saying someone breaking the law has an expectation that the cops will come. But does that equate to murder? Frederick would be found guilty of manslaughter, murder, I’m not so certain. I have a feeling murder depend on the techicality of the law. If killing a cop while growing pot equals murder under the letter of the law, the only thing to save Frederick from life in prison is one person who feels the prosecution was too untrustworty to believe.

    Having said that, there’s still a chance a guitly verdict could be tossed on appeal.

  23. Did he only admit to growing MJ on the stand? He did not admit it prior to trial?
    If before, where are the related charges?

    I guess it possible that he be found Not Guilty of Murder 1 only to be charged later with growing MJ at a later date.

  24. DO NOT make nasty phone calls or e-mails to the columnist. Columnists feed off your yummy, yummy insults.

  25. “””Did he only admit to growing MJ on the stand? He did not admit it prior to trial?”””

    Correct. He said he was only growing Japanese maples prior to the trial. The defense basically stipulated to the fact, then he admitted it on the stand. He said for personal use only. Saying you were growing the pot as claimed on the warrant will probably get you a guilty verdict on a manufacturing pot charge.
    If the letter of the law says shooting a cop for any reason while manufacturing pot is a capitol offense, then Ryan’s screwed.

  26. Ryan is charged with manufacturing pot, btw.

  27. TrickyVic,

    True, I vaguely remember SCOTUS, probably Scalia, saying someone breaking the law has an expectation that the cops will come. But does that equate to murder?

    State of mind is important when determining level of guilt. A law abiding person can make a plausible case that they could reasonable assume that anyone attacking their house was a criminal. Its harder to claim you did not know the intruders could be cops when you were engaged in an act you had to know could draw a cop raid.

    More vaguely, juries usually place moral and legal blame for all the consequences of a crime on the person who instigated the crime even if they clearly didn’t intend the consequences. For example, if you rob a store with an unloaded pistol but the clerk tries to shot you but hits a bystander instead, the jury will find you personally responsible since had you not tried to rob the store no one would have gotten shot. Someone getting shot was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of choosing to rob the store with the empty gun because it was likely everyone would assume the gun was loaded.

    Likewise I don’t think they will cut Frederick any slack because he chose to broke the law which set off a foreseeable chain of events that led to the officers death. He had to know when he started growing pot that he might be raided and he had to know when he chose to keep and use a gun that he stood a chance of shooting an officer in a raid by mistake.

    So, second degree murder .i.e. murder by volition but without prior intent is a reasonable charge.

  28. “””State of mind is important when determining level of guilt.”””

    Of course it is. That’s why the video tape should have been given to the defense when first requested. The prosecutor’s opening statements should have ensured defense access to the video.

    “””So, second degree murder .i.e. murder by volition but without prior intent is a reasonable charge.”””

    Which brings me back a question I’m waiting to have answered. Does the jury have the option of lesser charges, or it only as charged.

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