Wolter murder trial continues

One juror excused after out-of-court conversation




In a handwritten note found in Kori Fredericksen’s purse after she was slain, Dennis Wolter promised “never (to) touch or hurt Kori abusively as long (as) she is with me.”

Nearly seven weeks after the note was written, according to prosecutors, Fredericksen, 41, was found dead May 26, 2011, down a ravine along East Evergreen Highway in Camas. That was about a mile away from where Wolter, her boyfriend, was pulled over the same day for speeding. Wolter and his pickup truck were covered in Fredericksen’s blood.

In the third day of testimony Tuesday in Wolter’s murder trial in Clark County Superior Court, Vancouver police Detective Scott Smith showed the jury a photo of a four-petaled white flower floating in a puddle of Fredericksen’s blood in the bed of Wolter’s truck. Wolter told police the blood belonged to his dog, which he claimed had been struck by a car.

Prosecutors say Wolter, 43, stabbed Fredericksen more than 70 times inside his home at 1205 W. 39th St. in Vancouver to prevent her from testifying against him in a previous domestic violence case. Wolter’s attorney, Therese Lavallee, doesn’t dispute the killing, but will base her defense around Wolter’s allegedly diminished mental capacity and lack of ability to form criminal intent.

Wolter is charged with aggravated first-degree murder, which requires prosecutors to prove intent. Though it is a capital crime, prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty against Wolter.

Brett Bishop, a handwriting expert from Washington State Patrol, testified that handwriting on a note in Fredericksen’s purse matched Wolter’s. However, he said he could not confirm that Wolter wrote the signature and date — April 9, 2011 — on the note. “Dennis Wolter” was signed at the bottom of the note.

Prosecutors say that the note infers that Wolter had a history of domestic abuse and that the promise he made hinged on Fredericksen staying with Wolter. She left him to stay with a friend after an alleged assault on May 17, 2011, prosecutors say.

Fredericksen’s 9-year-old son on Tuesday described the domestic violence incident during which Wolter allegedly turned over Fredericksen’s china hutch and broke everything inside. Vancouver police testified last week that Fredericksen also sustained a minor cut to her finger during the incident.

Jurors on Tuesday also saw a bloody sneaker and a blood-stained black sweater Fredericksen wore the night she was killed. The sweater was perforated with multiple holes from the knives Wolter allegedly used to kill her. Detective Smith showed five knives recovered from the crime scene at the home. The majority of the knives were bent or broken.

Earlier Tuesday, a female juror was excused for having an out-of-court conversation with someone who had met the defendant. Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik asked that the juror be excused because she indicated the conversation made the trial more personal for her. He also complained that the juror had failed to follow the judge’s instructions not to discuss the case. Judge Robert Lewis said he found the juror hadn’t intentionally violated the court’s order but excused her as a precaution.

The trial is expected to continue into next week.