Webster sentenced to 50 years
Tyler Webster, 33, of Fairfield, found guilty April 16 of second-degree murder by a jury trial, received Iowa’s mandatory sentence of 50 years in state prison Tuesday for the shooting death of Buddy Frisbie on Aug. 25, 2012.
The Honorable Myron Gookin, who presided over the four-day trial and Tuesday’s sentencing, read part of Iowa’s law to the court.
“Second-degree murder is a Class B felony [with a 25-year imprisonment sentence] but Iowa law has enhanced murder to be a mandatory 50 years in prison,” said Gookin. “Second-degree murder is a forcible felony which means any sentence or judgment cannot be deferred. It is a heinous crime with a mandatory minimum requirement of 70 percent of time served, or 35 years, before being eligible for parole.”
Webster would be 68 years old in 2048 before becoming eligible for parole at 70 percent of the sentence.
Webster also was sentenced to pay $150,000 in restitution to Frisbie’s estate; pecuniary charges of $7,860 to repay funds expended by the criminal victims compensation; and pay all prosecution costs.
Gookin asked court-appointed defense attorney Michael Adams to provide a statement of his expenses. Adams, from Des Moines, said his expenses totaled $15,000.
“I’m asking the court not to impose my fees, as I believe Webster has no means to pay it,” said Adams. “He’s going to prison for 50 years.”
The judge also informed Webster of his right to appeal the judgment to Iowa Supreme Court within 30 days and his right to apply for counsel with the appeal.
“Failure to serve a notification to appeal within 30 days is a voluntary waiving of an appeal,” said Gookin.
Webster, who has been in the Jefferson County Jail since Aug. 25, will be transported by the sheriff’s department to Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale for examinations and reception into the state correctional system.
“I selected the sentence because the law requires it and the nature of the offense and use of a weapon and based on optimum rehabilitation and for the good of the community,” said Gookin. “I perceive a lack of remorse today.”
Prior to the judge’s pronouncement of sentence, Gookin asked the state’s prosecution attorneys if anyone wanted to give victim impact statements.
Since the trial in April, a pre-sentencing investigation was conducted which the judge and attorneys for the defense and prosecution reviewed. Statements from family members were included in the review, Gookin said.
Buddy Frisbie’s stepmother, Renee Frisbie, took the witness stand, indicating she would read a witness statement of her own and also one from Tristan Frisbie, a stepsister to Buddy.
Webster, sitting at the defense table with his attorney, dressed in prison stripes with his feet and hands cuffed, looked puzzled. Gookin instructed Webster to, “listen carefully, listen solemnly.”
“I’d like to ask a question,” said Webster. “This is a mandatory sentence of 50 years. It won’t affect anything.”
Before the court session began Tuesday, Webster had talked with his mother and wife, separated only by the court railing. He urged people not to address the court, because it wouldn’t change a mandatory sentence.
Gookin told Webster to direct questions to the court through his attorney.
Webster, who earlier had been consulting with Adams, told Gookin, “He’s fired.”
Gookin said Adams was not fired. He told Webster he would have a chance to speak later, and asked Renee Frisbie to begin.
She said how shocking it was to have law enforcement notify her family at home in the middle of the night about her stepson’s death.
“Sadness takes over,” she said. “You’re supposed to be a friend. You can sit there and look smug . . . What if it had been your child who died?”
She was interrupted by an outburst from Ann Webster, Tyler’s wife, sitting directly behind the defense table in the first row bench in the courtroom. Ann Webster was escorted by sheriff deputies from the courtroom, sobbing, but could be heard shouting for a few minutes.
Webster turned around and asked his mother to leave and comfort his wife.
Frisbie began to speak again, and was interrupted by another woman, sitting in the second row who had earlier been soothing Webster’s mother. She also was escorted from the courtroom. Neither woman returned to the courtroom for the remainder of the proceedings.
“This is not a free-for-all,” said Gookin. “Anyone disrupting court will leave and not return.”
Renee Frisbie said she believed Webster should be locked-up for life. She described her stepson as fun loving and the life of the party.
“He was a father, a brother — his kids will never see their father again,” she said. “Your niece will never see her father again. What a mess you’ve made for so many families.”
Webster’s wife Ann has a sister, Carissa Godwin, who was once married to Buddy Frisbie.
“Why not tell us really why you did it?” Renee Frisbie said. “Our relationship [with Buddy] was off-and-on, but he’s still our son. It’s sad, really sad.”
She stepped down, asking for a break before reading her daughter, Tristan’s statement.
Brian Frisbie, an uncle to Buddy Frisbie, read a victim impact statement from his mother, Buddy’s grandmother, who was present in court and sobbing quietly.
“My mother suffered a great loss that we’ll never forget,” he said.
“When police came to the house, I saw my oldest son [Kevin, Buddy’s father] crumple,” Brian Frisbie read for his mother. “It’s taken an emotional toll. It hurts to see my son go through this. Holidays, family gatherings will never be the same.
“Buddy was never charged with violence; he was the most polite young man. He always had a smile. I never heard him say anything bad about anyone. And Tyler, you sat through the trial looking smug.”
Renee Frisbie indicated she was not up to reading another statement, so Brian Frisbie again read, this time for Tristan, Buddy’s stepsister.
“My parents have had a hard time dealing with this. Parents aren’t supposed to bury a child,” he read. “His children will never see him again. I don’t think my parents will ever get over it. Nothing’s been the same since hearing about Buddy’s death. I believe Tyler deserves first-degree murder for killing Buddy and putting us through hell.”
Kevin Frisbie, Buddy’s father, indicated he would like to address the court. He was the only person not to have notes to read from.
He said he had served in the Marines from 1979 to 1983.
“I’ve made some mistakes,” he said. “I was divorced and by the time I got Buddy in my care, he had some problems.
“The past 10 ½ months I have had time for reflection,” he said weeping.
“I’ve reflected on what I could have done differently.
“Tyler, when I met you, you had just come out of Maharishi School and were put in public school and you were getting bullied,” said Kevin Frisbie. “I tried to impress upon you to use your words to fight. I told you, don’t use a weapon you wouldn’t want used on you.
“I had survivor’s guilt from serving in the Marines. I know whats it’s like to lose friends. Shame on your defense attorney for standing up and saying you were affected by war. You didn’t see friends die.”
Gookin reminded Frisbie he could only address the court and Webster about his feelings and the impact of the murder.
“You sat there and took the truth and twisted it so my son looks like a monster,” Kevin Frisbie said. “You, sir, shot my son. You caused his body to be desecrated by needing the bullet recovered.
“I tried to help you — without a diploma … you sat there and allowed that man … I am sorry for all the families, I’m sorry for Sally [Webster’s mother] … at least you still get to see him,” said Kevin Frisbie.
“You aren’t going to be paying your weight [in prison] … I have grandchildren I can’t see because of this. You still owe me an explanation.”
Webster spoke up.
“You’ll get it,” he said. “You’ll get it today — you won’t like it, but you’ll get it.”
Gookin invited Webster to make a statement.
“I hadn’t planned to make a statement,” Webster said, standing and turning to face the crowded courtroom. “I thought everyone knew the circumstances from the beginning. Having heard all that today, I’ll make a statement.
“When all this started, I made it clear I didn’t want to trample on Buddy’s grave,” said Webster. “Like you, I know exactly what the system has done to him. I watched time after time as he got trampled.
“You know what he is capable of, you know exactly what he’s capable of,” said Webster. “You can say what you want, you know what he was … even the crack about his children . . .”
Gookin interrupted Webster.
“This is not an opportunity to shoot down family,” said the judge.
“I cared about Buddy,” said Webster. “But his choices hurt people in ways they couldn’t recover from.
“His children were banned from seeing him … the mother of his second child had to leave the state …”
Gookin told Webster to keep his comments limited.
“The sentence can’t be changed, but I’ll not continue bad-mouthing anyone,” Webster said after apologizing to the judge and acknowledging his words were inappropriate.
With his hands pressed together and chin on fingertips, Webster paused awhile.
“Remorse is a tough issue,” he said. “I’ve reflected and thought about it. Does the bad outweigh the good? How much is too much? How far is someone supposed to be allowed to go … I can’t tell you how many times I let it go. How many people were hurt because I let it go. Someone was being hurt again and something inside of me — I don’t know what it was — … a man lost his life. But no one else is getting hurt now.
“I don’t know if that’s an unfair trade. I saw lots of people make unfair trades overseas, people got killed who didn’t deserve to die,” said Webster.
“Who has the right to tell me I’m playing God?” he said. “Life or death … people don’t understand … these people don’t understand.”
The sentencing proceedings lasted about an hour. Deputies escorted Webster to a private room, where his wife and mother were allowed to visit with him. He was then returned to the county jail.