By Gisele Arguello and Tumaris Hone
A late start this morning in Department 14, but nonetheless the David Ashley Froste trial resumed. The prosecution’s witness, Officer Dean Nyland of the Yolo County Sheriff’s Office, took the stand first. He was questioned about his responsibilities in prison as a correctional officer. With his presence, the prosecution laid foundation in respect to a letter he picked up during a sweep of Mr. Froste’s pod.
Defense counsel, Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira, then began her cross-examination. She inquired if there are any limitations on what correctional officers could look for while sweeping cells. Officer Nyland claimed they have the ability to look through any piece of mail unless it is legal mail.
He further testified that all inmates know their cells could be searched at any point. He recalled collecting mail from Froste’s cell and then transporting Froste to visitation. But, during this process, the defendant forgot something and asked him if he could go back. Officer Nyland refused, and, while Froste was in the visitation room, Nyland seized the opportunity to collect all papers from Froste’s cell.
Soon after, Ms. Sequeira began her cross-examination. She claimed the letter’s contents were never identified to the court. She then asked how much mail Officer Nyland actually picked up in Mr. Frost’s cell. Though he could not come up with an exact amount, he believed it was less than hundreds. But, most importantly, he did not look through what he had found. Instead, the witness handed it all to another correctional officer. He did not see any legal mail either. In sum, Officer Nyland was not aware of what he was collecting and therefore could not give any more information about the sweep. At this point, the court decided to pause for break.
In the afternoon, the prosecution resumed their direct examination. One of their attorneys admitted evidence into court: the letter found in Froste’s cell containing details and references to the crime.
Co-defendants like Jesus Campos and Chandale Shannon were mentioned here. Within this letter, words “keep your mouth shut” were written. When Detective Matt Jameson took the stand, he described the investigation process. On June 8 of this year, co-defendant Jesus Campos was arrested as a participating accomplice in the kidnapping and murder of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moore. He was led into a cell with another inmate. At this point, Detective Jameson explained this is called a “Perkin’s operation,” where an undercover officer, the “source,” acts as an inmate to gain details of the crime from an inmate, in this case, Campos.
The prosecution accordingly played a recording of their conversation as evidence against Froste. Throughout the tape, the source disguised himself as a fellow inmate, explaining the best ways to avoid the police, like hiding weapons and avoiding Apple phones due to their tracking capacity. For this reason, he appeared to be a convicted felon and fooled Campos into admitting certain details.
For instance, the source asked multiple questions about the murder, such as, “did you get rid of the guns and knives? Did you wipe the gun down?” At one point, he inquired if co-defendant Chandale Shannon participated in the kidnapping and murder.” Campos replied he did. In order to keep his cover, the officer diffused all suspicion when he implied that “it’s not a murder unless they know for sure,” and “no body no crime.” This assured Campos he was on his side.
Toward the end of the recording, the source asked other questions like whether Campos talked to the rest of the accomplices to keep their stories straight, whether the body was buried or burned, and “whose idea was it to do all this?” Gradually, Campos divulged details of the crime which incriminated his co-defendant, David Froste.
The prosecution then proceeded to submit multiple photos of the defendant holding marijuana, as well as a picture of him with a gun on his lap. Detective Jameson informed the court this gun could be similar to the Curling semi-automatic gun. But before any more could be said on this matter, Ms. Sequeira objected to the vagueness of the photo, claiming the item on his lap could not be clearly determined to be a gun.
The following witness, Special Agent Jones, described her assistance with the investigation as part of the FBI. She testified to the warrant the police used to search for evidence in Jonathan Froste’s car. Subsequently, Ms. Sequeira asked the witness if she actually saw the evidence report.
The special agent denied doing that. In fact, reading these reports is not her responsibility.
Detective Jameson then returned to the stand and finished his testimony by notifying the court of his search for the bodies with Jonathan Froste and Chandale Shannon.
With the end of this witness, the court ordered the jury to return tomorrow at 9:30.