At double murder trial, jury won’t see defendant’s racist social media

A Virginia judge has ruled that prosecutors can’t tell the jury at an upcoming double murder trial about the defendant’s social media posts containing praise for Adolf Hitler and support for Nazi book burnings and divisiveness neo-Nazi Atomwaffen, according to recently unsealed court records.

Nicholas Giampa was charged in 2019 with shooting and killing his girlfriend’s mother, Buckley Kuhn-Fricker, 43, and her stepfather, Scott Fricker, 48, after confronting him inside their Reston’s home three days before Christmas in 2017. The court had kept records in the case hidden from the public, but a judge last month ordered their release after a petition from the Washington Post and the Associated Press, despite objection prosecutors and defense attorneys.

According to police, Giampa, who was 17 at the time, shot himself between the eyebrows after the murders. Kuhn-Fricker’s daughter, who was 16 at the time, told police after the shooting that she and Giampa made a suicide pact after her family forced her to leave him and they had “discussed hurting his parents” if they tried to stop their plan, according to a police report that was among the newly released documents.

Prosecutors have ruled out charges against the girl, according to court records. Giampa survived, underwent brain surgery and rehabilitation, and is now on trial as an adult. His trial is expected to begin next year. The next preliminary hearing is scheduled for September 23.

Fairfax County Circuit Judge Brett A. Kassabian ruled July 8 that prosecutors cannot mention neo-Nazi allegations during the trial “because they were highly prejudicial,” according to a July 21 filing from the prosecutor’s office. of Fairfax County.

Prosecutors are appealing a separate judge’s ruling barring them from using Giampa’s January 2018 confession to police from his hospital bed as evidence. Giampa, who was recovering from his brain injury during interviews and had trouble remembering the names of his father and girlfriend, told police he felt half his brain was asleep, according to the court records. Kassabian ruled that Giampa did not knowingly or intelligently waive his right to remain silent at the time.

Prosecutors are not appealing the judge’s ruling that bars mentions of neo-Nazi allegations, they said.

“We are only appealing the suppressed statement because we do not have the legal authority to appeal on any other matter,” said Rebecca Campbell, spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Solicitor. She declined to comment further.

Prior to his death, Kuhn-Fricker emailed the principal of the Fairfax County private school for teens with emotional and learning issues that his daughter and Giampa attended, expressing concern that Giampa had retweeted messages. praising Hitler, supporting Nazi book burnings, calling for a “white revolution” and making derogatory comments about Jews and gay people.

Other tweets embraced the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi group, and denigrated the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. as “a low-IQ pervert and sex abuser.”

Kuhn-Fricker’s mother, Janet Kuhn, said her daughter told her she thought Giampa was trying to indoctrinate the 16-year-old. to ideas of white supremacy.

Family members of Giampa said he was not racist and instead posted the tweets to provoke people online. They said he struggled with isolation and depression. Giampa was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2021, after his brain injury.

According to the unsealed police report, after the 16-year-old told her parents that she would end the relationship, she would still meet Giampa secretly in her room from around 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. The parents had forbidden Giampa from entering their home, but their daughter gave him the code to unlock the front door, the police report said.

When the teenagers were discovered by parents in the early morning hours of December 22, 2017, they refused to open the bedroom door, until they heard attempts to pull the lock from the outside, says the police report.

Giampa pulled a gun from his bag, shot Fricker, and then Kuhn-Fricker, multiple times, police said. Denying a bail request in July, Kassabian said the attack Giampa is accused of carrying out included an “execution-style death blow to the back of the head.”

The report by Craig Guyton, who was a county police detective, says Giampa and the daughter then went to another room to carry out their suicide pact. Giampa first tried to shoot the girl but the gun did not fire, police said. He then committed suicide, according to the report.

Giampa public defender Dawn Butorac declined to comment.

Another Giampa public defender, Kasey H. McNamara, wrote in a court filing that a search warrant covering his home and electronics “returned social media posts, chats and photographs that depict images or discuss issues involving neo-Nazi related groups such as the Atomwaffen Division.

“In multiple emails, Ms. Fricker accused Mr. Giampa of using social media to post neo-Nazi content and alleged that he had committed other acts for the purpose of spreading messages from these organizations,” McNamara wrote. in the May 20 court filing, adding that Giampa had already been charged in juvenile court with child pornography offenses — and that Kuhn-Fricker’s tweets, emails containing allegations about Giampa and his delinquent judgment on child pornography charges would be too damaging to be admitted as evidence in the double murder case.

“The fact that the deceased disapproved of Mr Giampa and did not want him to be in a relationship with their daughter is sufficient for the Commonwealth to attempt to establish a motive without introducing alleged associations with neo-Nazi organisations,” McNamara wrote. . “Presenting Ms. Fricker’s emails and evidence of her beliefs about Mr. Giampa’s associations with neo-Nazi organizations would be very damaging to Mr. Giampa. Moreover, claims that Mr. Giampa was associated with these groups are at best tangential and speculative.

The prosecution argued that neo-Nazi publications were what prompted the couple to urge their daughter to break up with Giampa and that these allegations were “very probative as to the motive, intent and state of mind of the accused when he killed Mr. and Mrs. Fricker.

They cited another Virginia trial court’s decision to admit into evidence an image of Hitler as James Alex Fields Jr., who killed a woman and injured 35 others when he rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, had texted her mother.

“The court found that…the photo of Adolf Hitler had probative value and was highly relevant as Fields’ intent, motive and state of mind were at issue in the case,” prosecutors wrote. in a file filed on June 3. , the intent, motive and state of mind of the defendant will be at issue in this case. »

Fields was sentenced in Virginia to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 419 years. He was later sentenced to another life sentence for federal hate crimes.

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