During his months in jail, Ryan Frederick wrote and rewrote an apology to Jarrod Shivers’ family in his mind and on paper.
Hours before his Friday morning court sentencing, Frederick scribbled away again on a yellow notepad in his solitary cell until 2 a.m. “I did rough draft after rough draft,” he said. “Ball it up, throw it away. Ball it up, throw it away.”
It all boiled down to a simple expression: “I’m sorry.”
Later in a Chesapeake courtroom, Frederick faced the family of the detective he killed during a drug raid in January 2008. Dressed in a red prison jumpsuit, he softly read a one-minute, handwritten statement. He said he did not expect forgiveness.
“All I can do is apologize.”
Nicole Shivers, the detective’s widow, wore black and sat several feet away. She listened without visible emotion.
Circuit Court Judge Marjorie A.T. Arrington on Friday followed a jury’s recommendations and imposed the maximum: 10 years for voluntary manslaughter. Frederick, 29, must spend at least 8-1/2 years in jail, with credit for time already served.
He also faces three years of supervision after his release and must pay a $500 fine for possessing marijuana.
Outside the courthouse, members of the Shivers family said they accepted the judge’s decision to enforce the maximum punishment. Nicole Shivers said she has not forgiven Frederick but added, “I don’t have hate for him.”
Prosecutors and family members portrayed Shivers as a hard working family man whose death was a great blow to his community.
Shivers enlisted in the Navy after high school and worked as an aircraft handler and supervisor on the deck of the carrier Theodore Roosevelt. He started a family, and he left the Navy to spend more time at home. He joined the Chesapeake Police Department in 2000 and rose to the rank of detective.
During a raid on Jan. 17, 2008, Frederick shot Shivers as he entered his home in the city’s Portlock section.
Shivers, 34, left three children: Brittnie, Ashleigh and Landon.
Before leaving the courthouse with family and friends, Nicole Shivers said she’s still “trying to learn how to be a single parent.”
The highly charged trial included a special prosecutor, testimony from several jailhouse snitches, tearful family members, and a parade of police officers. A jury rejected a capital murder charge and found Frederick guilty of voluntary manslaughter in February.
Defense lawyers argued that Frederick shot in self-defense after he was awakened and thought burglars were breaking through his front door. His home had previously been burglarized.
Neither side was satisfied by the verdict.
On Friday, Jim Shivers, the detective’s father, said the family remains puzzled and disappointed by the jury’s decision. He did not think the verdict was fair, he said, “but it’s the one we got. It’s the one we’re going to live with.”
Shivers was pleased the judge handed out the maximum sentence.
Jack Bider, president of the Chesapeake chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, also said the 10-year sentence seemed unfair punishment for the loss of a fellow officer.
Bider acknowledged that the jury had carefully weigh ed the evidence before reaching a decision. “Then that’s the verdict,” he shrugged.
The case is expected to continue in an appeals court. Defense attorney Eric Korslund argued that Frederick, who had no prior criminal record, should be retried on lesser charges. “We’re going to try to get a new trial for him,” he said.
From jail, Frederick said he accepted his punishment.
He repeated his apology. “It’s a tragedy all the way around. His folks are suffering. I’m doing time,” he said. “There’s no closure.”
Louis Hansen, (757) 222-5221, firstname.lastname@example.org