Two sisters testify in Webster trial
The first witness for the defense in the murder trial of Tyler Webster in Jefferson County was an ex-wife of Buddy Frisbie, who was killed Aug. 25, shot by Webster.
Carissa Godwin testified Thursday morning, but before she or the jury entered the courtroom after a morning recess, the Honorable Myron Gookin denied the defense and sided with the state about limiting the extent of her testimony.
“Mr. Adams [defense attorney] will call Ms. Godwin to the stand,” Gookin said on the record. “She was married to Frisbie. She will testify he punched her in the stomach while she was nine months pregnant.”
Prosecuting attorney Denise Timmins said state law allows testimony about the punch, but the nine-month pregnancy is not relevant to the case.
Gookin said considering the positions expressed by the prosecution and the defense, and “state law; the violent act of striking a person is allowed under the rules of evidence, but extending the testimony to nine-months pregnant is prejudicial, and the court will not allow your witness” to include her state of pregnancy.
Godwin was asked how she knew the defendant, Webster.
“He’s my brother-in-law,” she said, speaking softly.
Her sister, Ann, is married to Webster.
Godwin met Frisbie in 2005, married him in 2007 and they were divorced in 2010.
Adams asked if Frisbie ever struck her, and if he did, where.
“Depending on which time?” Godwin said.
She spoke softly and the judge had to remind her to speak into the microphone and speak in her loudest voice.
Adams asked where Frisbie struck her on New Year’s Eve 2006, and she replied, “in the stomach.”
Other times, he would hit her “from the shoulders, down.” She answered yes to being pushed.
“How else were you abused?” asked Adams.
“He raped me two times,” replied Godwin. “The first time was in 2006.”
Godwin said she had stitches “down there,” which were ripped open during the sexual assault. The second incident was in October 2008. Godwin quietly cried at this point in her testimony.
Adams asked if Frisbie had assaulted her sexually in other ways.
“He liked to cause pain,” she said, answering affirmatively.
On cross-examination, Timmins asked Godwin if she loved Frisbie. Godwin answered yes.
“He could be very nice, fun, charismatic and provided well for you,” said the prosecuting attorney.
Godwin agreed her former husband could be all those things, but disagreed with Timmins that Frisbie had been a good provider.
Timmins showed Godwin a photo of a shotgun and asked where it came from.
“I purchased it,” said Godwin. “I bought it for Buddy’s son from a previous marriage. It was our gift to his son.”
Timmins stated Godwin said the first time she was raped was 2006.
“Following that time, you got engaged, you had consensual sex, you got married,” said Timmins. “The second time, 2008, you were married. Following that second time, did you have consensual sex?”
Godwin said she did. Asked if she had consensual sex with Frisbie after the 2010 divorce, she said she did not.
“The first time you told someone about the sexual assaults was a few days after Frisbie’s death?” asked Timmins.
Godwin said she told her sister, Ann Webster, after the shooting Aug. 25.
“Had you told your sister anything about this sexual abuse prior to Aug. 25? And your sister is married to Tyler Webster. Would she have told Tyler any of this?” asked Timmins.
Godwin said no to both questions. Timmins asked if Godwin thought Webster was afraid of Frisbie and she was asked how she viewed Webster.
“Tyler is powerful,” she said. “He only backs down to Ann. Tyler can defend himself. He’s not violent. Buddy was violent.”
Adams asked Godwin how often she had contact with Webster throughout the years of her sister’s marriage to him.
“Most of the time, I didn’t see him,” said Godwin. “He was stationed in Hawaii in the Army and deployed first to Iraq and then to Afghanistan.”
Adams asked Godwin if the times Frisbie struck her, or the times she said he raped her, were consensual.
“No,” said Godwin. “It was forced.”
Her sister, the wife of the defendant, followed Godwin on the witness stand.
Ann said she and Tyler Webster have been together 13 years and they have two children, ages 11 and 5.
“How long had you known Buddy Frisbie?” asked Adams.
Ann Webster said she’d known Frisbie about 12 years. Asked to voice an opinion on his character, she said he was sexually violent.
Asked to describe her husband’s character, Ann said, “he’s one of the best men I’ve ever met.”
She further described him as straightforward and a little rough around the edges.
“He can be loud and obnoxious,” said Ann Webster. “He sees things as cut and dried. Tyler voices his opinion. He’s not subtle. He’s honest to a fault.
“He’s a good dad,” she said.
Asked if she’d seen him act out of violence, she said no.
Asked if she’d known him to “wrestle-around” with other men his age, Ann Webster said yes.
She said her husband and a few friends, including Frisbie, would “rough-house play” with one another.
Asked if she’d ever seen her husband fight, she said she’d seen Webster “throw punches,” more in frustration, not fighting in anger.
Tyler Webster joined the Army in 2008 with the intention to serve in the National Guard reserves. After advanced individualized training, he transitioned to active duty and was stationed in Hawaii. He deployed to Iraq for a year, returned to Hawaii then deployed to Afghanistan.
Adams asked if through all the transitions and deployments Webster had ever been violent. His wife said no.
She said as a sergeant, he looked out for his soldiers, helped them out and taught them as much as possible. His priority in deployments was to make sure everyone came home, she said.
“You and Tyler have been out to the property [where the Aug. 25 shooting took place],” said Adams. “Were you out socializing?”
Ann Webster said she had been to the trailers at 2469 Marigold Blvd. previously. Last summer, prior to the shooting, they had been out there looking for a handgun, all the way back to the pond and cabin.
“Tyler was panicked because we couldn’t find the gun. He thought it was in a backpack,” she said. “We didn’t find it in searching.”
Adams asked her if Frisbie was supposed to help go look for the missing handgun.
“It became a phone-tag situation,” said Ann Webster. “Buddy was supposed to go and as I understand it, he went, but only as far as the trailers. Buddy had had the gun.”
The trailers, a stationary RV and a camper trailer, are parked on Charles Bond’s property at 2469 Marigold Blvd. Bond owns a cabin at the end of the long lane off Marigold Boulevard.
In cross-examination, Dille asked Ann Webster her address in August and her current address. She provided two different addresses. Dille asked why she moved.
“Our home address had been published in the media and I didn’t feel safe,” she said. “And I couldn’t afford to stay there.”
She clarified she and her husband weren’t having financial difficulties prior to the shooting. The defendant has been jailed since Aug. 25 and since then, Ann’s job provides their only income.
“In your March deposition, you said Tyler had changed since deployment and that you had marital issues to work out,” said Dille.
Ann Webster said she didn’t know if she would classify their problems as marital.
“Tyler was acting differently since returning from Afghanistan,” she said. “It was nothing we’d ever leave one another over.”
Speaking about life before the Aug. 25 shooting, she said she had sent her children to stay elsewhere for a week so the couple could have time off from the kids.
“Were you concerned for their safety?” asked Dille.
Ann Webster said no. Dille asked how her husband acted when stressed.
“He gets louder, he swears and he has a nervous laughter that could be seen as inappropriate,” she said.
Dille asked if her husband talked about Frisbie with her.
“He knew I disapproved of their relationship,” said Ann Webster. “He didn’t talk about him with me because he knew it would cause an argument.”
Dille asked if her husband was scared of Frisbie.
“No. . .I don’t know,” she said. “Tyler is poor at expressing emotions. He wouldn’t tell me a lot about Buddy.”
The court recessed around 12:15 p.m. Thursday and will remain in recess until 9 a.m. Monday when the trial resumes with more witnesses for the defense.