Defense Rests In Russell Vehicular Homicide Trial
KELSO, WA — Linda Wilms Russell was one of the last witnesses to take the stand in her son Fred’s defense Thursday and testified that Fred Russell feared for his life because of threats made against him in the days following a head-on collision that killed three WSU students in June of 2001.
Later in the day Russell’s defense team rested their case without ever calling him to the witness stand.
Linda Wilms Russell testified that her son fled the country out of fear from threats made on his life. She also talked about threats that had been made on her life and how her first reaction when she heard that he had gone missing in October of 2001 was thinking that Fred was dead.
“I absolutely thought he was dead, and that somebody had killed him and nobody cared,” she said.
Later during cross-examination Mrs. Russell appeared to get both agitated and defiant while being questioned, crossing her arms and then saying, “Ask me more questions,” before glancing up at Judge David Frazier. At one point Judge Frazier struck her response to a question from the record to which she replied, “She asked the question” before rolling her eyes and looking up at the courtroom ceiling.
Defense attorneys also played a voicemail left on Fred Russell’s answering machine sometime following the crash.
“You’re going to go to prison for a long time you worthless [expletive] of [expletive]. I hope and I pray to God you get [expletive] raped in prison you worthless [expletive] of [expletive],” one unidentified person said on a voicemail left at his home.
In addition to Russell’s mother and voicemails left for Russell at his home, defense attorneys also put an accident reconstruction specialist on the stand recreating his interpretation of the crash events.
Russell was one of the U.S. Marshals most-wanted fugitives when he was arrested two years ago in Ireland. Russell is accused of causing a crash six years ago that killed three Washington State University students and injured three others on the Moscow-Pullman Highway.
Closing arguments will take place Friday and then the case will go to the jury.