Nearly four weeks of testimony ended Tuesday in Dennis Wolter’s trial on charges he stabbed his estranged girlfriend, Kori Fredericksen, to death in May 2011 and dumped her body down a ravine on Clark County’s Southeast Evergreen Highway.
Jurors will receive their instructions and hear attorneys’ closing statements beginning at 9 a.m. today. Jury deliberations will follow.
Wolter, 46, is accused of stabbing Fredericksen, 41, more than 70 times in his Vancouver home at 1205 W. 39th St. He is charged with first-degree aggravated murder, which requires prosecutors to prove premeditation and intent. Though it is Washington’s only capital crime, the prosecution is not seeking the death penalty.
Wolter’s attorney, Therese Lavallee, has based the defense on claims that fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, as well as a traumatic brain injury Wolter suffered at age 18, caused brain damage interfering with his ability to form intent.
Lavallee and Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik continued grilling a prosecution neuropsychologist Tuesday to rebut each other over whether Wolter had the capacity to premeditate the slaying.
Neuropsychologist Michael Daniel of Oregon’s Pacific University had testified Monday that Wolter may have brain damage from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and the brain injury. However, Daniel said, the damage is not significant enough to prevent him from forming intent or living a normal adult life.
Daniel maintained his stance under Lavallee’s exhaustive cross-examination Monday and Tuesday. He first took the stand Monday to rebut testimony from three defense experts that Wolter has fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and that brain damage from the condition made him unable to premeditate Fredericksen’s murder.
Golik then questioned Daniel a second time to counter Lavallee’s cross-examination. The prosecutor played audio of an Aug. 2, 2011, jailhouse call between Wolter and a friend, Yevette Payne. In the call, Wolter discusses the skills of his prospective attorneys, Bob Yoseph and Lavallee. Wolter also says in the recording that he killed Fredericksen because “I had to stand up for what I believe in.”
Daniel said that the conversation shows that Wolter can form intent and carry out that intent.
He said the conversation demonstrates that Wolter has been an “active participant” in his legal strategy and that he remembered the murder. Wolter had told both defense and prosecution experts who interviewed him that he blacked out the killing, according to previous testimony.
“He clearly understands everything that was said (in the jail call with Payne),” Daniel said. He was able to “track multiple subjects throughout the conversation,” Daniel said.
“I think that gives us an idea of what his functioning was,” Daniel said.
Lavallee fired back with a rebuttal of the state’s rebuttal. She put defense expert psychiatrist Dr. Richard Adler back on the stand. Adler criticized Daniel’s conclusion that Wolter has antisocial personality disorder, which is characterized by a lifelong pattern of deceit, manipulation and disregard for the feelings of others. Daniel testified that he was convinced Wolter has the antisocial disorder based on Wolter’s criminal history. Adler said that Wolter’s scores on an psychological personality inventory were consistent with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, not the antisocial disorder, and that Wolter’s criminal history is consistent with a fetal alcohol disorder.
Adler said about half of people diagnosed with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder have violated the law.
Early on May 26, 2011, Wolter was pulled over for speeding on Evergreen Highway in Camas. He 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.
Fredericksen’s body was found the same day, about a mile away from where Wolter was arrested.
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 taken the dog in his truck to a veterinarians’s office, where Charlie 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.