Charge against teen killer tossed; officers withheld info

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A federal judge has dismissed a gun charge against a man who was convicted of murder as a teenager, saying state Department of Corrections officers improperly withheld information that could have been helpful to his defense.

Robert Andre Frazier served 34 years in prison for taking part in the fatal beating of an elderly man outside a Bremerton restaurant in 1981, when he was 15. He was released last summer, but a few months later, he was back in custody after a confidential informant tipped off corrections officers that Frazier had armed himself with a revolver and was seeking revenge for his uncle’s recent murder in Renton.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones wrote in an order Thursday that the corrections officers had a duty to disclose that they were aware of serious credibility issues with their confidential source, including that the tipster had failed a polygraph around the time he told them about Frazier. Instead, that information was not turned over until just before trial was due to begin, eight months after Frazier’s arrest — and by that point, the confidential source had died.

“The Government’s conduct here was unabashedly negligent,” Jones wrote. “In fact, the Government withheld impeaching information beyond mere questions about (the source’s) criminal history – it did not reveal benefits that (the source) received for cooperation,” including payment of $200.

The source’s name was redacted from court documents.

Jones said the government’s conduct was not so egregious as to necessarily warrant dismissal of the gun charge, but only the suppression of any evidence that stemmed from the informant’s tip. However, since that was all the evidence the government had — agents searched Frazier’s car and found the gun based on the tip — the judge dismissed the indictment.

The judge put the lion’s share of the blame on the Department of Corrections, noting that its officers put the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, Erin Becker, in an “increasingly untenable” spot by not coming forward with the information sooner, and that the prosecutor promptly turned over the information when she learned it.

Nevertheless, he said, prosecutors have a duty to learn of evidence favorable to the defense that is known to the government’s agents.

“That did not happen here,” he said.

Lee Covell, an attorney for Frazier, credited Becker’s handling of the case but said the DOC’s officers were too cavalier in their handling of the informant, a sex offender who knew Frazier and may have had motive to lie about him.

Frazier has been released from federal custody back to state custody, where he still faces potential sanctions for violating the terms of his release. In addition to possessing a revolver, he was living in unapproved housing when he was arrested, officials said.

Jeremy Barclay, a DOC spokesman, confirmed in an email that Frazier is being held at the King County Jail on parole violations, but he declined to comment on the withholding of information about the confidential source.

Frazier served time for robbing and beating to death Olando J. Enger, 82, with a 17-year-old friend.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Kristy Carrington, CEO of Providence Swedish of North Puget Sound, speaks during a Healthcare Summit at Everett Community College on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Providence, Optum and Premera discuss challenges at Everett summit

Five panelists spoke on labor shortages, high costs and health care barriers Wednesday at Everett Community College.

A salmon leaps out of the water while migrating up Wood Creek on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023 in Monroe, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
As Woods Creek railroad trestle comes down, a new doorway for salmon

The trestle was a toxic, physical barrier for salmon since 1939. Now, migrating fish will benefit from its removal.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Schools still without water after service restored to Tulalip homes

The affected area included Quil Ceda Elementary, as well as Heritage and Legacy high schools.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mt. Baker visible from the summit of Mt. Dickerman on a late summer day in 2017. (Caleb Hutton / The Herald)
Hornets pester hikers on popular Mountain Loop trails

“You cannot out run the stings,” one hiker wrote in a trip report. The Forest Service has posted alerts at two trailheads.

Most Read