Prosecutor files aggravated murder charge in Vancouver slaying

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: June 8, 2011, 7:50 PM

 
photoDennis L. Wolter was charged Wednesday with first-degree aggravated murder. He’s shown here at his first appearance in Clark County Superior Court in May.

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Prosecutors filed an aggravated murder charge Wednesday against Dennis L. Wolter, a Vancouver man accused of repeatedly stabbing his girlfriend and then dumping her body down a steep embankment.

Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik filed the first-degree aggravated murder charge against Wolter, 43, in Clark County Superior Court. As aggravating factors, the prosecutor alleges that Wolter violated a domestic violence no-contact order between him and victim Kori Fredericksen during the commission of the homicide.

Golik also alleges as an aggravating factor that Fredericksen was a potential witness against Wolter in an alleged misdemeanor domestic violence case that occurred a week before the homicide.

A first-degree aggravated murder conviction carries a mandatory punishment of life in prison without the possibility of release or the death penalty.

Wolter is scheduled to be arraigned June 23. By law, prosecutors must file a notice of intent to seek the death penalty with the court within 30 days of that arraignment date.

That decision, Golik said, won’t be made until he talks with police, defense attorneys and the family of Fredericksen, and he collects as much evidence he can in the case.

“I have not made the decision,” the prosecutor said Wednesday. “It is obviously a decision I would never make lightly.”

The case surfaced the morning of May 26 when Wolter 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 the old Evergreen Highway.

Fredericksen’s sister has said her sister 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.

Death penalty rare

Aggravated murder is Washington’s only capital crime. The death penalty is extremely rare in Clark County. Since 1981, when the Legislature reinstated the death penalty, three Clark County defendants have been convicted of aggravated murder and sentenced to death.

Only child-killer Westley Allan Dodd, who waived his appeals, was executed. Clark Hazen, condemned to die for the murders of two Fargher Lake residents, committed suicide. James Brett had his death sentence reversed and is serving a life sentence for the murder of a Mount Vista businessman.

The last Clark County resident convicted of aggravated murder was Darrin E. Sanford, who pleaded guilty in 2009 to killing a 13-year-old girl in a Hazel Dell field. Instead of the death penalty, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.

Laura McVicker: 360-735-4516 or laura.mcvicker@columbian.com.