NEW PORT RICHEY — Robert Fredrickson, on trial accused of attempting to kill deputies who responded to a 911 call at his house, took the witness stand Friday and said he was just trying to get away from a confrontation with his wife.
"I was getting dressed to leave," Robert Fredrickson, 44, said. "We were arguing. I wanted to leave. I didn't want to argue anymore."
After deliberating for several hours Friday night, jurors said they could not reach a verdict. A judge declared a mistrial. Prosecutors said they will try Fredrickson again. A new trial date will be set on Tuesday.
The fight happened after midnight on April 2, 2012, at the couple's house on Royal Stewart Drive. Fredrickson argued with his wife, Caroline McNeill, over finances, and then over a possible divorce. She called 911 after he put a gun to his head. Tests later showed his blood alcohol level to be 0.189, more than double the limit at which Florida considers a person impaired.
Pasco Deputy Jeanie Spicuglia testified that Fredrickson pointed a gun at her when she went in to check on him. She ran out. She and Sgt. Troy Law caught up with Fredrickson outside, in a neighbor's back yard. She yelled gun and fired five times, missing every shot. Law fired once, then charged Fredrickson, and with the help of other deputies, hit him with a stun gun and subdued him.
Fredrickson said he was headed for a "sand pit" nearby to cool down. He said he had his guns because he didn't want them taken away by authorities. He admits he wasn't thinking rationally when he fired two shots in the house. The discharges, he said, were accidental, and must have blown out his hearing. He never heard deputies' commands at all, he said.
"I saved a long time to get these weapons," he testified, "and I cherished them."
Prosecutor Chris Labruzzo told the jury to look at Fredrickson's actions to decide his guilt.
"There's a time to be held accountable for his actions, and that's today," Labruzzo said, "especially when he put the lives of law enforcement in danger, and the people of the neighborhood."
Assistant Public Defender Willie Pura said the only crime Fredrickson is guilty of is stupidity.
He said Spicuglia was inexperienced and she panicked, and that the deputies were trying to go back in time and change what happened. He said Spicuglia told deputies Fredrickson held a gun at her because she was trying to justify her retreat.
"She didn't want to be responsible for his death if he had killed himself," Pura said.