Manslaughter, Not Murder, for Shooter in Botched Drug Raid

The arrest and trial of Ryan Frederick in Chesapeake, Va. drew nationwide attention after details of the botched drug raid at the center of the case emerged.

Last January, Frederick was sleeping in his home, three days after being the victim of a burglary, when his dogs started barking. He awoke and heard someone trying to break through his front door. He got out of bed, grabbed his gun, and headed towards the front door. When he saw someone attempting to enter his home through a lower door panel, he shot and killed the intruder.

At the time, Frederick had no idea the intruder was Chesapeake Police officer Jarrod Shivers and that the police had come to serve a drug warrant. He was arrested and charged with first degree murder. Prosecutors elevated the charge to capital murder and considered seeking the death penalty.

Frederick had no prior criminal history, but admitted that he smoked marijuana recreationally. Although he was an avid gardener, there was no evidence that he ever grew or sold the drug, according to his criminal defense attorney.

As the facts of the case unfolded, it was revealed that a confidential informant informed police that he saw marijuana growing in Frederick’s garage. The warrant stated the informant was at Frederick’s home three days earlier and saw marijuana plants, growing lights and irrigation equipment. During the raid, police found only enough marijuana to charge Frederick with misdemeanor drug possession. Frederick’s lawyer says the burglar who broke into the home and the police informant are the same person.

A jury rejected the capital murder charge and recently convicted Frederick of voluntary manslaughter and simple possession of marijuana. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and by law will be required to serve 85 percent of his sentence. He will receive credit for the year he has spent in jail and could be released in seven and a half years.

The judge in the case will make a final ruling on the sentence in May.