The End of a Long Journey: Froste Verdict Has Families Crying
By Tumaris Hone
After weeks of trial and several days of jury deliberation, the long hours discussing the course of events leading up to the kidnapping and murders of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moores has come to an
The defendant, David Froste, was charged with premeditated murder of a 15 and 16 year old boy. The prosecution prepared to prove his motive for deliberately killing Rios and Moores.
It became evident, the victims stole several pounds of marijuana from the defendant, and this was the apparent incentive to end their lives. The prosecution invited numerous witnesses to describe the victims’ hard working, bright personality and their desire to succeed in life. Rio’s grandmother and stepfather were among other witnesses testifying.
On the contrary, the defense council brought to light the victims’ robberies in the community and their association as co-defendants in a juvenile case.
Finally, after weeks of back and forward testimony from these two sides, twelve jury members unanimously decided on a guilty verdict for count 187, the deliberate, willful, and premeditated murders of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moore.
The jury did however find Froste not guilty of intentionally firing a weapon to cause bodily harm to either victims.
On the other hand, they confirmed there is enough evidence to believe he kidnapped Elijah Moores, and is therefore guilty on this count. At this time, David Froste waived his interview with probation and decided his sentencing will commence on December 13 at 1.30 pm.
While Judge Rosenberg’s clerk announced the verdict, the victims’ families happily cheered in response to finding Froste guilty. As the jury members were exiting the courtroom, one family member particularly thanked each and every one of them for their decision.
Both families followed them out with tears, hugging and thanking the prosecuting attornies countless times outside the courtroom. News reporters with cameras lingered to record testimonies of the victims’ families, one
of whom felt finally at peace with herself.
Previous article: Defense Offers Closing Argument in Froste Trial
by Connor Kianpour
After weeks of trial in Department 14 of the Superior Court of Yolo County, Deputy Public Defender Martha Sequeira gave a compelling closing statement on the afternoon of October 31 in the case of David Ashley Froste. She first began her closing argument by encouraging the jury to approach the facts of this case devoid of emotion. Although the trial was emotional, Ms. Sequeira reminded the jury that they must be impartial, using the tools of facts, law, and common sense to aid them in reaching a verdict.
The public defender then called into question the effectiveness of the testimonies of witnesses in the case in implicating her client as a criminal in these circumstances. She made the case that one of the witnesses had no previous relationship with Mr. Froste and was coaxed by law enforcement officials during questioning to ascribe malevolent attributes to Mr. Froste in order to exculpate Chandale Shannon, a close friend of the witness, of the charges levied against him. Ms. Sequeira also brought to light the fact that two of the witnesses called by the prosecution made no mention of David Froste in their testimonies, but only mentioned the involvement of Chandale Shannon, Jesus Campos, and Jonathan Froste in the abductions and murders of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moore.
Furthermore, Ms. Sequeira dedicated a substantial portion of her closing argument to underscoring the lack of evidence the prosecution has to make a conviction in the case. She highlighted the fact that no new evidence –– be it DNA, a physical weapon, ammunition, zip-ties, or plastic bags –– was found between May of 2017 and June of 2018 regarding the facts of the case. Moreover, during that time, no charges were levied against any person because of the lack of evidence to convict somebody of a crime for the missing persons. Sequeira posited that the only thing that changed in June of 2018 was the fact that David Froste would be released from prison for previous marijuana charges in the following July and that there would be public outrage because rumors and conjecture led people of the public to believe that Mr. Froste orchestrated the abductions and murders of the missing teens.
Ms. Sequeira reminded the jury that even Detective Matt Jameson, the primary investigator in this case, testified under oath that there was no difference in the body of evidence made available to the Woodland Police Department between May of 2017 and June of 2018. She used this fact and the subsequent arrests that were made in June and July of 2018 to suggest that law enforcement officials felt pressured to file charges since the public was criticizing them for not doing enough to seek justice for Mr. Rios and Mr. Moore.
The next portion of Ms. Sequeira’s closing argument was dedicated to addressing the evidence which the prosecution suggested to the jury was an admission of guilt to the crimes in question on Mr. Froste’s part. Overall, she argued that the prosecution overlooked the context of the statements called into question and she urged the members of the jury in their deliberation to realize that, in context, the statements made by Mr. Froste were far from incriminating, let alone an admission of guilt.
The most forceful aspect of Ms. Sequeira’s closing argument, however, was when she addressed the testimony offered by Jonathan Froste, David’s brother and an alleged accomplice in the abduction and murder of Elijah Moore. Ms. Sequeira prefaced her commentary by informing the jury that accomplice testimony should only be considered when there is evidence to support the testimony. Furthermore, she argued that the only evidence that is supportive of the testimony is not evidence that supports the charge that David Froste commissioned the abduction and murder of Elijah Moore. She also reminded the jury that the testimonies of other witnesses cannot be used as evidence to substantiate the accomplice testimony of Jonathan Froste. Beyond this, Ms. Sequeira called into question the reliability of the Jonathan Froste’s accomplice testimony.
Ms. Sequeira emphasized the point that Jonathan Froste believed he was facing the death penalty as he was charged with the murder of Elijah Moore and knew that things would not go over well for him if he went to trial. Moreover, Jonathan gave his accomplice testimony under the pretense that, if he was on good behavior and complied with the rules of the prison system, he would be released from custody in 13 years. He also admitted this to the jury during his testimony. Ms. Sequeira went on to make the bold claim that Jonathan Froste’s testimony was a fabricated, self-serving, inculpatory statement that was made with the intent to keep his time in prison as low as possible.
On behalf of the prosecution, Deputy DA Jay Linden offered a brief rebuttal to Ms. Sequeira’s robust closing argument, where he simply restated the facts of the case that are relevant to convicting David Froste for the abductions and murders of Enrique Rios and Elijah Moore. Mr. Linden asserted that it is a fact that Mr. Froste was there when Mr. Rios went missing and when Elijah went missing, and emphasized to the jury that the evidence substantiating accomplice testimony need only be slight. Furthermore, this slight evidence points to Mr. Froste being the ringleader of the operation. Mr. Linden states that this is most profoundly evidenced by the fact that Chandale Shannon, Jesus Campos, and Jonathan Froste did not kill anybody while David Froste was in custody for his marijuana conviction. Mr. Linden went on to say that the defense’s entire closing argument was total speculation and did not at all even account for the abduction and murder of Enrique Rios.
After these arguments, the jury members were given their final admonitions before going to the deliberation room. Judge Rosenberg projected that the final verdict would likely be given no later than Tuesday, November 6.