A jury has acquitted a pain-clinic patient who could have faced life in prison, if convicted on accusations that he pistol-whipped a doctor before making off with more than $14,000 from a suburban Lake Worth pain clinic.
Jeffrey Frederick was just 24 years old when deputies in December 2010 arrested him hours after a semi-automatic gun-wielding masked man robbed the Urgent Pain Management clinic at 2111 10th Ave. N.
Frederick’s defense attorneys in his trial last week described the case as one of mistaken identity. Jurors agreed, returning the verdict late Friday on armed robbery and burglary charges after less than four hours of deliberation.
“We were certainly fearful, that despite how we saw the evidence in the case that it could come back the other way, but we commend this jury for sitting down and going through what they heard,” said Joshua Leroy, who represented Frederick during his trial, along with defense attorney Sabarish Neelakanta.
“We believe they made the right decision in the end.”
The acquittal ends what, at the time at least, appeared to be a clear-cut robbery case.
The doctor and others in the clinic knew Frederick. In fact, according to arrest reports, doctor’s office workers said Frederick had been in the office just hours before the burglary. He had become irate when they accused him of doctor shopping and refused to give him medication, they said.
And when authorities quickly tracked him to a suburban Lake Worth apartment complex, Frederick only surrendered after he held a SWAT team at bay during a brief standoff.
During Frederick’s trial, prosecutors Marci Rex and Adrianna Lopez called to the stand an office worker who testified that she recognized Frederick as the assailant, noticing similar facial tattoos above the area where a bandanna covered most of the robber’s face. Two women at a nearby trailer park also testified that it was Frederick who they saw walking towards them immediately after the robbery, before he disposed of a hooded sweatshirt that other witnesses said the robber was wearing.
But Dr. Rahat Federani, who was injured during a struggle with the robber, could only say that the suspect was black and wore a hooded sweatshirt. Federani, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall, said the robber was just a couple of inches shorter than him. Frederick is 5 feet 8 inches.
Leroy and Neelakanta also pointed out that, according to surveillance video of the robbery, the office worker who said she saw Frederick’s facial tattoos couldn’t have possibly seen a tattoo on the left side of his face when she was far to the right of the assailant.
And the two women who said they so clearly saw Frederick after the robbery never mentioned either the two-inch goatee he had grown at the time, or the many distinctive tattoos covering his arms.
Arrested along with Frederick in 2010 was Friendley Sertile, 21, who deputies said was Frederick’s getaway driver. But prosecutors in January 2011 decided not to pursue any charges against him, according to court records.