Defense in Wolter murder trial rests

Prosecution will make its rebuttal on Monday

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 
photoKori Fredericksen Murder victim, in 2011

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The defense rested Thursday in the trial of Dennis Wolter, accused of stabbing his estranged girlfriend to death in May 2011.

Under cross-examination Thursday, defense expert Natalie Novick Brown, a clinical and forensic psychologist, maintained her opinion that Wolter didn't have the mental capacity to premeditate the murder of Kori Fredericksen, 41, because of brain damage he sustained from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Wolter, 46, is accused of stabbing Fredericksen more than 70 times inside his home at 1205 W. 39th St. in Vancouver. (Previous articles incorrectly placed Wolter's age at 43).

He's charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which requires prosecutors to prove premeditation and intent.

Wolter's attorney, Therese Lavallee, has argued that Wolter has brain damage from a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, as well as a traumatic brain injury at age 18. She said the damage interfered with his ability to form intent.

Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik challenged Brown on Thursday on her testimony that Wolter was unable to premeditate the murder.

He confronted her with autopsy photos of defensive stab wounds to Fredericksen's hands and arms.

"She held her hands up and tried to get him to stop stabbing her," Golik said. "Wouldn't that be evidence of premeditation?"

Brown said that would be intentional acting but not premeditation.

She later explained that the part of Wolter's brain that governs self-control — the orbital frontal cortex — is damaged. When rage mounted in his limbic system — the part of the brain controlling emotion — he entered a stabbing "frenzy," and the damage in his orbital frontal cortex prevented him from stopping. She said such frenzies can last for up to 20 minutes in people who have fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Golik noted that Wolter broke multiple knives and had to fetch additional knives in order to finish killing Fredericksen.

"Do you agree that he had to stop stabbing her and get another weapon, and that is evidence that he stopped for more than a moment in time (to premeditate his actions)?" Golik asked.

"Premeditation requires cognitive skills he did not have," Brown replied.

Early on May 26, 2011, police found Fredericksen's body down a ravine along Southeast Evergreen Highway between Camas and Vancouver. That was about a mile away from where Wolter was pulled over the same day for speeding. Wolter and his blue Dodge pickup were covered in Fredericksen's blood. A domestic violence no-contact order for Wolter to stay away from Fredericksen was on the front driver's seat.

According to previous testimony, Wolter told the officers that the blood came from his dog, Charlie. He said that a vehicle struck the dog during a game of fetch, and that he had transported the dog in his truck to a veterinarians's office, where the dog had to be euthanized.

Police later found five blood-stained knives, a trail and pools of blood, and Fredericksen's bloody, perforated sweater at Wolter's home.

The trial resumes Monday with the state's rebuttal witnesses, including a neuropsychologist expected to testify that Wolter has antisocial personality disorder rather than fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. The disorder involves a pattern, starting in childhood, of manipulating and violating the rights of others.

The trial is recessed today because of a scheduling conflict.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.