VANCOUVER, Wash. – The case of a Vancouver man who allegedly stabbed his girlfriend more than 70 times and then dumped her body in a ditch in May 2011 went to a jury on Wednesday afternoon.
The jury of six men and six women will decide whether Dennis Wolter is guilty of first-degree aggravated murder, a crime that carries a penalty of life in prison without the possibility of release.
After deliberating just one hour, jurors were sent home for the day at 5 p.m. They will return Thursday morning to resume deliberations.
The trial has lasted about three weeks.
Wolter’s defense attorney, Therese Lavallee, has contended that her client suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome that’s riddled his personal life with mental problems and prevented him from forming the intent to kill. Wolter also suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was 18, she said.
Lavallee is asking the jury to instead consider convicting Wolter of a lesser charge of second-degree murder, a crime that does not require proof of premeditated intent.
In closing arguments, Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik laid out a gruesome scene, highlighting to jurors that Wolter took deliberate steps that showed his intent.
“When he was done stabbing her with one knife, it wouldn’t work anymore. He had to stop. He had to stop stabbing her. Drop that knife, go back and get another knife,” Golik told jurors.
Golik was detailing the crime scene at Wolter’s home the morning of May 26, 2011. In all, five knives were recovered from the home and believed to have been used in the slaying.
The killing came to light later that morning when a Camas police officer stopped Wolter’s speeding car on Old Evergreen Highway. Wolter was covered in blood, which he blamed on taking his severely injured dog to a veterinarian. He said the dog later died.
Fredericksen’s body was later found nearby, down a ditch along the highway. She had been stabbed more than 70 times, prosecutors said.
Fredericksen had been the victim of a domestic violence case by Wolter a week before the killing. The couple had parted ways, and family members believe Fredericksen had returned to his house the night of the alleged murder to fetch her things.
Gruesome details about the killing was almost too much for Fredericksen’s younger sister, Tammi Murphy, to bear. Murphy and other family members sat quietly through much of the morning’s closing arguments.
Murphy said she is ready to move forward.
“I’m pretty much the next in line of who knew her the best,” she said. “So for my future, I’ll continue to be my sister’s voice and stand up for her and who she really was.”