CLEARWATER — Jurors heard two versions of what happened after Adrianne F. Robert met Thomas Frederick at the Diamond Dolls strip club, where Robert and her male roommate had gone following a night of drinking in July 2012.
Everyone agrees Frederick ended up at the town home where Robert lived, while her roommate stayed for a lap dance. What was in dispute was what occurred next.
Prosecutors say Frederick, then 23, raped an inebriated Robert while holding a steak knife to the 29-year-old woman's eye on her bed, then fatally stabbed her in a bathroom, plunging the knife 4 1/2 inches into her chest.
In the version presented by Frederick's defense attorneys — and which jurors heard in a tape-recorded interview of Frederick by detectives — the sex was consensual.
Robert flipped out in the bathroom after the sexual encounter and grabbed a knife, Frederick told the detectives. Frederick took it from her and during the ensuing tussle Robert was fatally stabbed.
The jury didn't believe it.
After deliberating for fewer than two hours, the 12-member panel found Frederick guilty of first-degree murder. Prosecutors were not seeking the death penalty, so Pinellas Circuit Judge Thane Covert meted out the only punishment allowable under Florida law — life in prison.
“He knew she couldn't tell her story so he was going to tell a story that worked for him,” Assistant State Attorney Noelle Festa told jurors Friday in her closing arguments. “The evidence told Adrianne's story.”
Before Frederick left the town home at of 2958 Pinecone Circle, he cut out a swath of the sheet on the bed where he had raped Robert and took it with him in a failed attempt to destroy DNA evidence, prosecutors said.
But DNA consistent with Frederick's remained on the mattress pad underneath, and he left a palm print on the exterior of the bathroom door, prosecutors said.
He also took the steak knife, a cell phone belonging to Robert's roommate, and the keys to Robert's Jeep, later abandoning the vehicle, prosecutors said.