OLYMPIA - A witness testified Wednesday during Robert Maddaus' first-degree murder trial that Maddaus told him he shot Shaun Allen Peterson after leaving the witness's Capitol Way home in the early morning Nov. 16, 2009.
Maddaus, 41, was convinced that Peterson had stolen five pounds of methamphetamine, one pound of marijuana and about $30,000 from Maddaus’ Rochester home that month, witness Daniel Leville told the jury Wednesday.
Maddaus faces first-degree murder and other charges related to Peterson’s homicide. Peterson, a 40-year-old father, was found dead, in handcuffs, with multiple gunshot wounds in the street a block or two from Leville’s residence in the 1800 block of Capitol Way at 2:43 a.m. Nov. 16.
Maddaus’ attorney, Richard Woodrow, has said he will produce witnesses who will testify that a companion of Maddaus’ at Leville’s Capitol Way home that night was the one who shot Peterson.
Leville’s testimony Wednesday provided a window into the world of methamphetamine sales in Thurston County. In the drug culture, dealers are reluctant to call police when they have been robbed of drugs and money, according to witnesses who have testified during Maddaus’ trial.
Maddaus was enraged over the theft of drugs and money from his home in the 10000 block of 179th Avenue Southwest in Rochester, witnesses have testified.
Leville said Wednesday that in the days after the theft, Maddaus told him that “when he got to the bottom of it, when he found out who did it, that when he figured it out, that they were going to die, that he was going to kill them.”
Leville said on the witness stand that he formerly sold methamphetamine and heroin supplied by Maddaus. Leville said that after the theft from Maddaus’ home, he spoke to Maddaus on the phone, and Leville said he feared that Maddaus might have believed that he had stolen the drugs and money.
“He was upset; he was agitated,” Leville said of Maddaus. “He had just been robbed of a significant amount of cash and drugs.”
Maddaus came to Leville’s home several days after the theft from Maddaus’ home, and Maddaus “wanted to get to the bottom of it.”
“Everybody was a suspect,” Leville told the jury.
Maddaus came to Leville’s home a second time on the night of Nov. 15 brandishing a pistol, according to Leville. Maddaus had brought a companion, Daniel Tremblay, and Peterson, who wore handcuffs, into the residence, Leville testified.
Leville said he was at his Capitol Way home with his girlfriend and another friend. Leville said Maddaus told him he had brought a tape recording of a conversation about the theft from Maddaus’ home, and he was trying to determine whose voices were on the recording. Leville said Maddaus believed Peterson’s voice was on the tape, and the tape revealed that Peterson was responsible for the theft.
According to court papers, Maddaus played the recording and tried to convince others there that it was Peterson’s voice on the recording.
Leville testified he could not make out any of the voices on the recording that Maddaus had brought to his residence. Others at the residence also tried to talk Maddaus out of his belief that it was Peterson’s voice on the tape.
Leville testified he believed Maddaus was going to kill Peterson that night, and that he tried to persuade him to reconsider. Leville testified that he told Maddaus that “killing somebody is final. No one will be able to hug this guy again. Somebody loves him. Somebody’s going to miss him.”
Soon thereafter, Tremblay left the apartment, according to Leville. Peterson, still in handcuffs, also left, followed by Maddaus, who was holding a semi-automatic pistol, Leville said.
Under questioning from Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau, Leville said he complied with Maddaus’ demands while at his apartment – “because he had a pistol and I didn’t,” Leville stated.
Leville said he followed Maddaus down the steps from his apartment and watched through a window as Maddaus followed Peterson, and Maddaus’ handgun was intermittently pointed at Peterson.
“Shaun was walking away and the defendant was following,” Leville said. “ From what I recall, he was pointing the gun at him but not always.”
Leville said that when he went back into the apartment, “my thought process was, we need to get out of there.” After that, Leville testified he heard five shots, fired off consecutively, “just as fast as you could pull the trigger.” Leville said he thought they were warning shots because “he’s not that dumb. He’s not going to kill somebody on South Capitol Way.”
Leville said he and his girlfriend fled after hearing the shots because they were “starting to fear for our lives.” Leville testified that if Maddaus had shot Peterson, he feared Maddaus might also shoot him and his girlfriend “to eliminate any witnesses.”
In the days after Peterson’s homicide, before Maddaus was apprehended and arrested, Leville said he had a telephone conversation with Maddaus, and Maddaus admitted that “he shot Shaun; the gun jammed.” Leville said he considered calling police, but “he hadn’t been picked up yet, so I really didn’t want to push my luck.”
Woodrow will begin his cross-examination of Leville this morning. The trial is expected to continue though the week of Jan. 28.
Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465 firstname.lastname@example.org