Defense Requests Charges Be Dropped Against Russell
KELSO, WA — Defense attorneys began laying out their case for former federal fugitive Fred Russell Tuesday morning by asking that the charges against him be dropped.
Judge David Frazier, who ruled against a similar motion during a pre-trial hearing in Colfax, refused to drop the charges.
The request came on the heels of Monday’s testimony of a state crime lab employee who conducted the alcohol test on Russell’s blood sample. Defense attorneys have long held that the samples were handled improperly and are expected to focus on showing the state’s errors in handling of the evidence.
The state crime lab inadvertently destroyed vials of Russell’s blood that would have shown Russell’s blood alcohol level the night of a fatal crash that killed three Washington State University students in 2001.
The prosecution argued that the evidence was destroyed accidentally and should be allowed in court.
However, the defense has maintained that the destruction of evidence violates Russell’s constitutionally guaranteed right to a fair trial and, not only should the evidence be inadmissible, but they had even asked that the entire case be thrown out.
Ultimately, Judge David Frazier sided with the prosecution and dismissed the defense motion.
“Based on the evidence presented the court finds that the defense has failed to establish that defendant’s blood samples were destroyed in bad faith,” Judge Frazier wrote in a 31-page ruling in late September.
Now the decision will be in the hands of the jury as Russell’s attorneys attempt to show, amongst other things, that the blood samples were unreliable and shouldn’t be taken into account.
The defense plans to call nine witnesses, including Russell’s mother. She will be allowed to testify about how her son perceived that his life was being threatened, and that’s why he fled the country.