NEW PORT RICHEY — A Pasco man is on trial on charges he tried to kill deputies after a late-night drunken domestic dispute.
The confrontation happened after midnight on April 2, 2012, at the couple's house on Royal Stewart Drive. Robert Fredrickson, 44, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and one count of attempted murder of a law enforcement officer.
He argued with his wife, Caroline McNeill, over finances, and it escalated to talk of divorce. She called 911 when he put a gun to his head. His blood alcohol would later be tested at 0.189, well over the limit at which Florida considers a person intoxicated.
The first deputy on scene was Jeanie Spicuglia. She said Fredrickson pointed a gun at her when she entered the house. "When I looked he had a long gun in his lap and at that point he raised it at me," Spicuglia said in court Thursday.
Prosecutor Chris Labruzzo asked her to describe the gun to him.
"I'm not really good with guns," she said.
Spicuglia said she ran out, and a shot was fired, then another soon after more deputies entered and ran out again. Fredrickson ran next door through the back yard, breaking through a fence. He was carrying a duffel bag with all his gun supplies and two guns. He told the Tampa Bay Times in an interview he just wanted to get away and didn't want the cops to confiscate his weapons.
He said he was trying to unload his gun when it jammed. Spicuglia saw him in the back yard with Deputy Troy Law. She yelled "Gun!" and fired five times into a recliner in the back yard, she said. Law fired once, and then ran to tackle Fredrickson, who was not hit. He was taken into custody and later released on bond.
On Thursday, he sat in a pinstripe suit with his family behind him and his wife outside the courtroom. Several deputies and investigators took the stand. McNeill was heard on a 911 recording tussling with her husband for a handgun. She screams after a shot is fired in the house.
Fredrickson's public defender Willie Pura said the evidence does not prove Fredrickson wanted to hurt or kill anyone.
"The evidence will indicate he acted very, very stupidly and had some cockamamie plan to leave, but the evidence will not show he aimed his gun at anybody," Pura said.
Spicuglia panicked and shot five times at close range at someone she didn't see, Pura said, and now has to go back in time and explain what happened. Just the fact that Law only fired once and then ran for a tackle, Pura said, shows that Law knew there was no immediate danger.
"I expect the deputies were covering for their mistake," he said.
The trial is expected to conclude today.