OLYMPIA - Shaun Allen Peterson made the mistake of believing Rochester methamphetamine dealer Robert Maddaus was a friend, according to Peterson's girlfriend, Randi Henn.
“That’s what essentially killed him,” Henn said of Peterson, who had just become a father to their daughter at the time of his death in November 2009. “He was trying to help Bobby. He got set up.”
Maddaus, 41, was found guilty on Thursday of kidnapping Peterson at gunpoint, and fatally shooting him five times while Peterson was in handcuffs in the street in the 1800 block of Capitol Way. On Tuesday, Maddaus will be sentenced to what will likely be a lengthy prison sentence.
Henn said the verdict is no consolation for the loss of Peterson, whom she described as “hilarious, always fun, always looking at the bright side of life.” But Henn said Peterson also was caught up in the drug world, a world she, too, was lost in until she became pregnant and got clean.
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Henn described Maddaus as egotistical, always carrying a gun, someone who tried to intimidate others to get his way. Witnesses for the prosecution who bought narcotics from Maddaus testified at trial that they were afraid of him.
“Bobby’s a big-time dope dealer,” Henn said. “He had a lot of power in this town.”
Witnesses testified that in the week or so before Peterson’s homicide, Maddaus was obsessed with finding out who had stolen five pounds of meth and $30,000 from a safe in his home.
Henn said Peterson didn’t steal the drugs and cash, and was trying to help Maddaus find the culprits. She added that Peterson knew Maddaus was unstable and liable to blame anyone for the theft, but he believed his friend would come to his senses before blaming him.
“Shaun had a lot more faith in people and a lot more trust in people than they had in him,” Henn said after Maddaus’ guilty verdict.
Peterson’s friends and family packed the courtroom Thursday for the reading of the jury’s verdict. Police officers from all around Thurston County also were on hand to see what would happen to Maddaus, who had eight felony convictions prior to Thursday.
Olympia Police Detective Chris Johnstone, who led the investigation of Peterson’s homicide, said Olympia will be a safer place with Maddaus off the streets.
“I’m happy that the family got justice,” he said.
Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau said outside court Thursday that by a conservative estimate, Maddaus faces 30 to 50 years in prison.
The jury convicted Maddaus of first-degree murder, attempted kidnapping, second-degree assault, two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of tampering with evidence.
Maddaus’ second-degree assault conviction is for shooting a woman with a paintball gun and spraying bear mace in her face in an attempt to find out if she knew anything about the theft.
The four convictions for tampering with evidence stemmed from Maddaus’ unsuccessful attempts to persuade witnesses to give him a false alibi.
Asked if prosecution witnesses are breathing a sigh of relief after Maddaus’ guilty verdicts, Henn responded, “I know I am.”
Peterson was 40 at the time of his death. He also has a son who was present during Maddaus’ murder trial. Outside court, one of Peterson’s boyhood friends, David Conn, called Maddaus’ conviction a “blessing and redemption for Shaun’s soul” and added, “He didn’t deserve what he got.”
Conn said Peterson had many friends, and many tears were shed after his death. Peterson’s mother, Judy, smiled and hugged family members as Maddaus was led from the courtroom in handcuffs after the verdict was read.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org