Norfolk, Va. - Attorneys defending a man accused of killing an off-duty Norfolk police officer said in court Monday the officer had "a darker side" that might have played a role in his murder.
Police and prosecutors said Victor Decker was killed outside a Virginia Beach strip club three years ago during a robbery. But David Bouchard, a defense attorney, said there may be more to it. He said the squeaky-clean image of Decker as a decorated cop and a family man isn't accurate.
"We know that is not the person he was," Bouchard told Circuit Court Judge Stephen Mahan. "He was not faithful to his wife many times over. He was not faithful to his wife that night."
Bouchard also told the judge: "Mr. Decker had a darker side which will be coming out in trial. He was not a puritan. He was not a loving family man."
The officer's widow, Dawn Decker, typically attends hearings in the case. She was not in court Monday.
On Oct. 26, 2010, with his wife and newborn out of town, Decker and friends ended up at a strip clup across from Naval Air Station Oceana. At closing, Decker left. By his truck someone robbed him and shot him in the head. The case went unsolved nearly two years before prosecutors revealed as many as five jailhouse snitches identified Raymond Lewis Perry as the killer. Perry is already serving a virtual life sentence on federal charges. Prosecutors have conceded in court there are no fingerprints, ballistic evidence, DNA or eyewitnesses tying Perry to the killing.
In court on Monday, defense attorneys reinforced to the judge "this is a snitch-only case," and that apparently neither the murder weapon nor the officer's personal gun have been found.
Prosecutors Monday also revealed a guard-shack security camera at Oceana might have captured the killing. A detective said police took two hours of video from the shack and, at 2:02 a.m., there's a flash of light that one investigator thought was a muzzle flash. However, according to testimony, FBI experts were not able to enhance the video and they are not certain the flash is from a gun.
Jennifer Stanton, a defense attorney, said she thinks it is a muzzle flash, and believes the video might show as many as two people leaving the crime scene, and then a car speeding off. She is asking for a private analysis of the video, and said lightning bolts that night might illuminate the killer's parked car.
She also said there is video from a Target store, near an Interstate 264 ramp where police recovered some of Decker's belongings. No one in court revealed what that video shows.
The statements about Decker's "darker side" came in a defense motion to move the trial out of town. Bouchard said his client has been vilified as a cop-killer while the officer has been characterized -- inaccurately Bouchard said -- as a stand-up family man. The statements about Decker's alleged unfaithfulness apparently rankled prosecutor Sara Chandler. She accused Bouchard of trying to stir up more media coverage to support his request to move the trial.
"He's just put out there insinuations that will be reported," Chandler said. She did not dispute Bouchard's statements. A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office said they are not allowed by court order to talk about the case, and she couldn't say whether prosecutors disagree with Bouchard's statements.
Mahan, the judge, said he will not decide right away whether he will move the trial. Typically, that happens only when it's clear it will be hard to find impartial jurors. He also is asking state video analysts to look at the guard-shack video again before he approves an outside analyst.
Perry is scheduled for trial in February.