Fox Files: Lincoln County prosecutor said he had to take over sheriff’s investigation

Data pix.

LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. – There’s now a murder charge involving a shooting investigation exposed in Tuesday night’s Fox Files.

The indictment stems from a shooting death on July 4, 2019. On July 5th, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook the shooting appeared to be self-defense. Now seven months later, we’re learning of a drastic turnaround in court.

Russell Woods was escorted by deputies into the Lincoln County Justice Center on Wednesday, where he was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge.

Woods is accused of shooting Brian Fredde to death shortly after Fredde arrived home from work.

Lincoln County Prosecutor Mike Wood said his office had been investigating since July 5, 2019 – ever since the sheriff’s office posted on Facebook that evidence suggested it was self-defense.

“We were really disappointed to see that was put on Facebook,” Wood said. “It doesn’t do anything to serve our investigative purposes. In fact, it probably does more to undermine what we’re trying to do, as well as poison potential jurors.”

Fredde’s mother, Cheryl Bertels, was shaken as she left court Wednesday.

“I’m heartbroken,” she said.

It was the first time she’d seen Woods since he shot her son.

“I just started shaking, I couldn’t control it; I just started sitting there shaking,” she said.

Emotions were heightened because Woods is the victim’s brother-in-law of eight years. Bertels read a statement in court about what she remembered Woods saying in her own house.

“He had said on numerous occasions that he always wanted to shoot someone and watch them die,” she said.

Surveillance cameras that were on a home at the time and captured the entire shooting. However, the prosecutor said he didn’t obtain that video until the sheriff had already suggested it was self-defense – after July 5, 2019.

“Later, when we received a search warrant, we were able to seize the digital evidence and it did take a look at it then,” Wood said.

A spokesman for the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office countered, “This investigation was conducted by detectives with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office who worked hand in hand with Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Mark Fisher throughout this entire investigation.

“Detectives on scene secured a search warrant on July 4, 2019, for a DVR holding the home’s surveillance video. Detectives reviewed the footage of a surveillance camera that day and sent it to Mark Fisher on July 29. The DVR was forwarded to Cyber Crimes in St. Charles on July 4, who extracted the video surveillance and returned it on November 7, 2019. This is a typical turnaround for Cyber Crimes.

“Sheriff John Cottle spoke with Assistant Prosecutor Mark Fisher on July 4, 2019, advised him of the evidence the Sheriff’s Office had and they both mutually agreed to release Russell Woods pending further investigation. The video evidence the Sheriff’s Office had at the time suggested it was an act in self-defense.”

After court, Fredde’s mother was shaken but said she was also equally relieved the case is finally in court.

“I’m thankful that he’s finally going to have to be – he’s going to have to answer to this one way or the other, irregardless of what the end result will be,” Bertels said.

The judge dropped bond from $300,000—which the prosecution asked for—to $100,000, in which Woods can pay a percentage. He’ll have to wear an ankle monitor. He’ll be back in court in two weeks.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.