Bringing a decision on the death penalty one step closer, a Vancouver man was arraigned Monday on an aggravated murder charge for allegedly stabbing his girlfriend to death in May.
Dennis L. Wolter pleaded not guilty to the charge before Clark County Superior Court Judge Robert Lewis. Trial was set for July 9, 2012.
Normally, prosecutors have a 30-day deadline upon arraignment to decide whether to seek capital punishment in aggravated murder cases. Wolter agreed to waive that right, giving Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik until at least Jan. 15 to make a decision.
In potential capital cases, the defense puts together for the prosecution a mitigation packet, which outlines reasons to merit leniency for the defendant. Such factors usually include education and state of mind, among others.
“The defense feels this time is absolutely necessary to put together the mitigation packet,” defense attorney Therese Lavallee said.
Wolter’s arraignment had been stalled the last two months, in part because the judge had to sort out a claim of conflict of interest involving the defendant’s second attorney, Bob Yoseph, who is dating a Vancouver police officer. The judge found no actual conflict because the officer does not have a vital role in the homicide investigation.
Wolter, 43, is the first Clark County defendant to be charged with aggravated murder since February 2009, when Darrin Sanford, a homeless Level 3 sex offender, was accused of slaying 13-year-old Alycia Nipp in a Hazel Dell field.
The aggravating factor in Wolter’s case is that he reportedly violated a no-contact order imposed a week before the homicide when he was arrested on fourth-degree assault domestic violence in connection with 41-year-old Kori Fredericksen.
Wolter was implicated in the homicide the morning of May 26 when he was stopped by a police officer in Camas for speeding and was found covered in blood, according to court documents.
Police searching the area of the traffic stop discovered Fredericksen’s body down a steep embankment along Southeast Evergreen Highway. She had been stabbed multiple times.
Fredericksen’s sister has said Kori Frederickson was trying to leave town the night of the slaying. After being unable to pay the extra fee for overweight baggage on the Greyhound bus, she went back to Wolter’s house in the 1200 block of West 39th Street because she told a friend she wanted to retrieve her personal items. She was never heard from again.
Wolter is being held in the Clark County Jail without bail.
Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker.