After six days of testimony, the prosecution rested Friday in the aggravated murder trial of Vancouver resident Dennis Wolter, who’s accused of fatally stabbing his estranged girlfriend, Kori Fredericksen, in May 2011.
Prosecutors wrapped up their case in Clark County Superior Court around noon after playing two audio recordings of jailhouse calls by the defendant. Attorney Therese Lavallee launched Wolter’s defense in the afternoon.
Some of the words in the audio recording of the calls were unclear, but prosecutors gave the jury transcripts of the calls.
In one call on June 24, 2011, Wolter tells Jonathan Luepke, Fredericksen’s stepson from a previous relationship, that one witness “needs to understand there was nothing said.” The person he was referring to was Dannielle Williams, Luepke’s ex-girlfriend, said Vancouver Police homicide Detective Lawrence Zapata.
Williams testified Thursday that while she was in custody for a probation violation, she spoke with Wolter outside the Clark County Jail. She said Wolter told her that he killed Fredericksen because she “narced on him.”
Zapata said he was concerned about Williams’ safety and arranged for her to be moved to the Skamania County Jail for her protection.
In another call on June 9, 2011, to Todd Wilson, Wolter suggests that Fredericksen pushed him too far. Wolter was arrested May 17, 2011, for alleged fourth-degree assault and malicious mischief against Fredericksen. The next day, a judge ordered Wolter not to have any contact with Fredericksen, which meant Wolter wasn’t allowed to return to his own home, where the couple lived together.
Wolter says in the recording that Fredericksen called him repeatedly every day after he was released from jail on May 21, 2011. One day, the calls exceeded 100 times, he says. He also says in the recording that she had stolen his stuff and sold it for “dope.”
“A lot of things built up to what happened,” Wolter says during the call.
“I tell you one thing I regret — losing my life, ruining my life over this,” he says in the recording. “That’s what I regret …”
A defense witness said Friday afternoon that in the days leading up to Fredericksen’s death, it was the defendant who was calling Fredericksen against her wishes.
Bobbi Manor, Fredericksen’s friend, testified that the victim stayed at Manor’s apartment from May 21, 2011, until the time of her death. During that time, Manor said, Wolter called Fredericksen repeatedly.
“Finally, I told her to turn (the phone) off,” Manor said.
Prosecutors say Wolter, 43, stabbed Fredericksen, 41, 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. She says he has brain damage from fetal alcohol syndrome and sustained a traumatic brain injury at age 18, and that the damaged area controls emotion, self-control, deciphering information, making decisions and forming judgments, she says.
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.
Oliver Hidden, Wolter’s former employer and landlord, testified Friday that Wolter seemed to struggle with tasks assigned to him.
“He wanted to do it, but he would miss things, skip things,” Hidden said. “He would say he was finished, and half the stuff that needed to be cleaned up wasn’t cleaned up. … He thought he’d done it. He was happy. Then, I had to send him back.”
Hidden said that on the night before Fredericksen’s body was found, Wolter said he was happy because he thought he would see Fredericksen, and there was a chance he might be able to make up to her after his May 17 arrest. Hidden said Wolter thought the no-contact order had been dropped when he was released from jail. Hidden warned him that the no-contact order was probably still in effect and that Wolter should stay away from Fredericksen.
Wolter’s neighbor, Dylan Lengvenis, also testified that Wolter was happy the night before Fredericksen’s body was found, but Lengvenis’ interpretation of the reason for that joy was different.
After Wolter’s arrest, Fredericksen had planned to take a bus on May 21, 2011, to South Dakota to live near her family, only to be turned away because her bags were too heavy.
Lengvenis said he had beers with Wolter the night before Fredericksen’s body was found. He said Wolter had “a little leftover anger from what happened the week before (when Wolter was arrested).”
“Other than that, he was happy under the assumption that she had left … had moved,” Lengvenis said.
Early on May 26, 2011, police found Fredericksen’s body down a ravine along East 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. Police later found five blood-stained knives, a trail and pools of blood, and Fredericksen’s bloody, perforated sweater at Wolter’s home.