Taking the stand to challenge a first-degree murder charge against him, a 31-year-old used-car salesman suggested to a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury Thursday that detectives had tried to strengthen their case by erasing part of a taped interview with the defendant before his arrest in March 2010.
"There's a lot of stuff missing" from the tape played in court, said the defendant, Frederick A. Christian, the only witness for the defense before both sides in his trial rested their cases. After almost a week of testimony, the jury is expected to hear closing arguments on Friday morning and begin deliberating the defendant's fate.
Christian is accused of fatally shooting a 23-year-old Cockeysville woman, Jerryell Myesha Foster, around Thanksgiving Day in 2009. She and Christian were the parents of a girl who was 2 at the time, and all three were living in the Cockeysville apartment in which prosecutors say the murder took place. Foster's body was found five months later on a wooded roadside in Stafford County, Va.
Pursuing his theme that exculpating statements had been removed, Christian said the recording had been edited by the detectives to serve their own ends. "I went to college and I did digital media," he said. "I know how easy it is to cut and edit."
Christian recalled that he had agreed to meet with a detective and a police corporal in a restaurant to discuss the case and that the corporal "kept kicking my legs," despite his complaints about it to the detective. "Good cop, bad cop — that's the routine that you all use," said the defendant, who admitted under cross-examination that he had on three occasions been convicted of crimes involving distribution of cocaine.
During the conversation in the restaurant, the detective, Carroll Bollinger, "kept repeating" that Christian had killed his girlfriend, "and I keep denying it," Christian said. "It would be on the tape if it hadn't been fabricated."
During his questioning of the defendant, Assistant State's Attorney David Lemanski brushed aside Christian's claims about police conspiracies and suggested that nothing was missing from the tape.
"Do you remember saying you were going to plead guilty?" Lemanski asked him.
"Yes," Christian said after a pause, and then ascribed his answer to the "state of mind I was in" at the time, which he described as "very emotional."
The defendant was sullen and argumentative on the stand with his own attorney, Donald Daneman, at one point berating him for "not asking me the questions you should be asking me." Christian said he had tried to find his missing girlfriend in the days after her disappearance, and denied having taken her body to Virginia.
And, in an apparent response to other witnesses' testimony, he said, "My memory works better than anybody else's does."