By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
OLYMPIA – Robert J. Maddaus Jr. took the witness stand today and admitted he spent a weekend trying to find who had robbed his Rochester home of drugs and money but denied he suspected Shaun Peterson, denied having a gun and denied shooting Peterson.
The now-41-year-old answered questions in Thurston County Superior Court about the weekend beginning Nov. 13, 2009 and the days after until he was picked up in Chehalis.
His defense attorney Richard Woodrow asked him why he didn’t call the police.
Maddaus suggested he was stalling until police figured out what really happened.
“I knew there was a warrant for my arrest, I was waiting for it to blow over,” Maddaus said. “I mean, come on, they were gonna find out who did it.”
The Rochester man spent about an hour and a half answering questions today. Woodrow asked him directly: “On Nov. 16, 2009, did you kill Shaun Peterson?
“No,” Maddaus said.
“Who did?” Woodrow asked.
“I think Matt Tremblay,” Maddaus said.
Maddaus is on trial for first-degree murder and other charges in the 40-year-old Tumwater man’s death. Peterson was found handcuffed and dying in Olympia on Capitol Boulevard outside a drug dealer’s apartment.
Twelve jurors plus three alternates – consisting of 12 women and three men – began hearing the case on Jan. 12 in Judge Christine Pomeroy’s courtroom.
Some 30 spectators crowded the Olympia courtroom today to hear what Maddaus had to say.
He began by saying he’d known Peterson about six months.
“It started out drugs. I sold him drugs, he got drugs from me,” Maddaus said. “We kind of became friends.”
He spoke of being out with other friends smoking methamphetamine when he got a call from his mother letting him know his mobile home had been robbed.
While witnesses for the prosecution have described that Maddaus returned home and assaulted a 25-year-old woman staying with him he believed was involved, Maddaus agreed he was suspicious of her, but said he grabbed a can of bear mace she was holding and it accidentally sprayed them both.
The door to the bedroom was kicked in and then, “It clicks, my safe is open, it’s still there,” he said.
“Oh yeah, obviously somebody had the combination,” he said.
He explained he began making phone calls and then, with acquaintances, visiting people over the next three days.
“All kinds of people,” he said. “Everybody I knew in the drug world, or that knew somebody in the drug world, I was trying to contact.”
Maddaus said he went to a house in Tumwater to see a guy who had methamphetamine that looked like his. Jason Juneau said he’d gotten the dope from Robbie Russell so Juneau bought some more from Russell in Chehalis and the two men compared it, he said.
Maddaus said he got a call from someone who said there was a recording of some people talking about robbing somebody.
He, Tremblay and a couple other people listened to it in Lacey, he said.
“Did you recognize any voice?” Woodrow asked.
“No,” Maddaus said.
Maddaus said he wanted to talk with Peterson about it, since the other person sounded like “Fat Nate.” Peterson knew where “Fat Nate” lived, and Maddaus didn’t, he testified.
On the night of Nov. 15, he and Peterson met Tremblay at the Olympia apartment of Daniel Leville and Falyn Grimes to listen again. Tremblay had a better recording of it and they played it over Leville’s speakers, he said.
“When I got there, it was just Dan, Falyn and Jesse,” he said.
The couple wouldn’t let Peterson inside unless he was handcuffed, Maddaus said.
While Jesse Rivera has previously testified he sat in Maddaus’s car in the Lacey Fred Meyer parking lot and watched Maddaus hold a gun to Peterson’s head while telling him to put handcuffs on, Maddaus said today Peterson did not have the handcuffs until after the two arrived at the apartment.
“I’m sure he didn’t love it, but he wanted to clear his name,” Maddaus testified.
Maddaus said he did not have a gun, but he saw Rivera holding a gun inside the apartment.
They were preparing to leave to talk with another person whose voice seemed to be on the recording, he said.
“Shaun said, ‘are you gonna take these cuffs off?’ ” Maddaus said. “I said, as soon as we leave, I will take them off.”
Soon, Peterson went out the door, Maddaus said.
“I heard the commotion, I seen Matt go out,” he said. “I grabbed my cell, me and Dan started heading to the door … Right as I was going to the door, the shots were fired.”
Maddaus said he saw Tremblay running toward his car and saw Peterson stumbling up the street.
“I ran towards Shaun, he fell down before I got to him,” he said.
Tremblay, in Maddaus’s Jetta, drove past him a bit and stopped, Maddaus said. He got in.
Tremblay stalled the car repeatedly, and Maddaus told him to get out, which he did, but then he got in the passenger side, he said.
“I drove to Rochester,” he said.
“Why?” his attorney asked.
“Because I wanted to get out of there,” he said.
“Why didn’t you call the cops?” Woodrow asked.
“I don’t call cops,” he said. “When you’re in my world, it’s the worst thing you can do.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Bruneau spent about 40 minutes cross examining Maddaus.
He focused on conversations Maddaus had after that night with a tattoo artist and drug dealer Theodore Farmer, contemplating getting help with an alibi.
Maddaus agreed with Bruneau that he hid out at friend’s and motels, wore a long wig and arranged to have his Jetta painted. He admitted that he acquired the handcuffs and that he sold drugs.
Maddaus agreed with Bruneau who pointed out Maddaus was robbed and angry about it. Money and several pounds, Maddaus agreed.
“And you would have killed to get it back,” Bruneau said.
“No,” Maddaus said.
“You killed in retaliation,” Bruneau said.
“I didn’t kill anyone,” Maddaus said.
“Mr. Maddaus, since you cannot resort to the law, you have to resort to your own rules, you have to resort to force,” Bruneau said.
“You handcuffed Shaun Peterson,” Bruneau said.
“No,” Maddaus said.
Maddaus is charged with first-degree murder, four counts of witness tampering and unlawful possession of a firearm. He is also charged in the same case with attempted kidnapping and second-degree assault of 25-year-old Jessica Abear.
• Witnesses point to Maddaus’ friend as shooter, here
• Tremblay testifies Maddaus shot Peterson, here
• Inside the apartment that night, here
• The robbery at Maddaus’s Rochester mobile home, here
• Day one of Maddaus’s trial, here
• Why the first jury pool had to be dismissed, here
• Why Maddaus was convicted of just simple possession in Lewis County last month, here
• How Maddaus refused to testify against Robbie Russell in September, here
• How Russell and Maddaus tried to outrun sheriff’s deputies a week and a half after Peterson’s death, here