By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
Robert J. Maddaus Jr. lost his appeal of his convictions and sentence that put him in prison for life in connection with a weekend of threats and death as he tried to recover cash and pounds of methamphetamine stolen from his Rochester trailer home.
The admitted drug dealer was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Shaun Peterson, a 42-year-old acquaintance who died handcuffed and shot on an Olympia street early on Nov. 16, 2009.
At his jury trial in Thurston County Superior Court in early 2011, Maddaus was also convicted of two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and four counts of witness tampering, as well as second-degree assault and attempted kidnapping related to his interrogation of a 25-year-old woman he suspected was involved in the theft.
In a unanimous opinion issued today, the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division II affirmed the convictions, except for one count of witness tampering.
His appeals attorneys argued, and the state conceded, that two counts of tampering related to multiple contacts with Theodore Farmer to persuade him to provide an alibi constituted at the most one unit of tampering. The appeals court agreed.
Today’s decision remands to the trial court to vacate or dismiss one of those counts.
Through his attorneys, Maddaus argued a dozen different reasons and ways the outcome of his trial was wrong. The one point he won on won’t change his sentence of life without the possibility of release, based on the so-called three strikes law.
Among the rejected arguments discussed in the 57-page opinion are that his home was improperly searched, that he was allowed to be restrained with a leg brace and shock device during trial and challenges to recorded jail phone conversations, jury instructions, the prosecutor’s closing statements and more.
Maddaus was captured in Chehalis about a week and half after Peterson’s death, in a car containing pounds of meth, cocaine and heroin.
At trial, the 41-year-old took the witness stand and denied everything, except that he sold drugs and wanted to find out who had robbed him.
For background, read “Three guesses as to who helped murder suspect Maddaus hide out …” from Sunday Feb. 6, 2011, here
Read the opinion, here