THE CASE FOR FREDDY'S REMAINS
As we continue to follow the updates regarding Ronnie Hyde’s potential trial, a new call to action began in the courtroom by prosecutors: release Fred Laster’s preserved torso to the family.
On August 20th, 2017, prosecutors during the pretrial hearing for Ronnie Leon Hyde (who just turned 61) called for Fred Laster’s remains to be released to the grieving family so he can be laid to rest. Doing so would also begin the next phase of the healing process for the family. Though the judge will take it into consideration, the likelihood of this happening may not be as good as we may think.
Because the torso will bring to light the severity of the crime, it is planned to be used for state’s evidence against Hyde, as well as expected testimonies from many key players in this investigation. But the real question to keep in mind is what would a physical torso do for this trial when there were extensive photographs taken of it?
As we covered in the original story about this case, blood testing was done on the torso and an extensive observation followed by famed pathologist Dr. William Maples. Then-sheriff of Columbia County, Tom Tramel, announced that over the counter medication was the only thing found in the blood test and that there was no indication that Laster was a smoker, drug addict or drinker. With that said, why does the state need his torso?
Dr. Maples covered a lot of ground regarding the damage to the torso. He went into detail where the dismemberments occurred, and also ruled out saw damage; stating the damage was caused by clean cuts from a kitchen knife. Additionally, Dr. Margarita Arruza performed an autopsy on the torso and made her rulings and recommendations. With that said, why does the state need his torso?
There has been no recorded trial where the physical body of someone was wheeled out in front of a judge, jury, witness, defendant and observers to prove that they were murdered. In fact, it would bring a morbid shock value to the courtroom if this ever happened (I don’t speak for other countries as I don’t have on-hand information about them; but I am certain that this hasn’t been the case in America). Would the state want to re-vicitmize the family by continuing to withhold Fred Laster’s body from them? At this point, it sounds like it’s better to the state than letting Hyde walk away scott-free.
But what is really at stake is the fact that the torso has been sitting in a freezer in the Duval County Medical Examiner’s Office for over 23 years. After 23 years, what good is it to keep the torso? If the state has an idea why they should keep it, they should make their case to the family very clearly, and it better be a good one. Otherwise, there is no reason why the state should maintain Fred’s torso any longer.
In Trayvon Martin’s case, they did not need to keep his body for state’s evidence. In Caylee Anthony’s case, they did not need to keep her body for state’s evidence. The Bundy victims, The Green River Killer’s victims, I can go on and on. None of their bodies never had to be kept for state’s evidence. So why this case?
Isn’t it time to allow the Laster family to close out one chapter of their lives by bringing Freddy home? Isn’t it time for Freddy to be laid to rest beside the rest of his family that preceded or followed him in death? The family says yes, but the state says maybe? How about a resounding yes! The state should have collected all the evidence it needed with photographs, technology and reports that law enforcement generated over a span of 23 years, so give Freddy back to the family and let him rest in peace!
Jason Futch has been following the LCJD and developing updates since 2011 while a student at Florida Gateway College in Lake City, FL. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon as a motorcoach driver for Northwest Navigator Luxury Motorcoaches.