Robert Fratta's gym buddies testify

May 8, 2009 4:41:09 PM PDT
The capital murder re-trial of a former police officer accused of hiring hit men to kill his wife continued Friday. On the stand, a friend of the defendant talked about a strange conversation they had before the murder. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Robert Fratta wanted his wife killed and he was trying to get his gym buddies to help him. That was the picture painted by prosecutors as a week of testimony wrapped up. They called several witnesses who worked out with Fratta. James Ray Thomas testified that Fratta approached him about being the hit man.

"He was asking if I knew someone who could do it, and talked about money several times," testified Thomas.

"And how much money would it cost to get it done?" the prosecutor asked.

"We talked about $3,000," answered Thomas.

Defense attorneys tried to point out that both Thomas and gym buddy Michael Edens thought Fratta was just joking around. Both men admitted that they didn't take Fratta's threats seriously. However, Thomas said his mind began to change after the two men took a ride in Fratta's jeep.

"I do remember him pulling out his gun (in the Jeep) and waving it around," testified Thomas. "And he said we need to hurry up and get it done."

"How did that conversation make you feel?" asked the prosecutor.

"I felt he was more serious about it. It kind of worried me a little bit, like something might happen," said Thomas.

Prosecutors kept on the offensive, saying he had no remorse after his wife was murdered. They put on the stand life insurance adjuster Kerry Lennon, who got a call from Fratta, trying to collect on the policy.

"(I told him) that he wasn't the beneficiary," said Lennon.

"How did he react?"

"He exploded in anger," said Lennon. "He said he was the spouse. He demanded to talk to my supervisor. He was mad."

Defense attorneys tried to show that Lennon could not tell if the man on the phone was actually Fratta, or someone pretending to be him. And as the intense testimony continued, Fratta simply sat at the defense table showing no emotion.

Testimony continues Monday morning.

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