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Affidavit says video shows hot tub death

by: Clackamas County Sheriff's Office, Michael David Hessemer

A surveillance camera caught Michael Hessemer of Lake Oswego hitting Frederick Stephens III in a Mountain Park hot tub, and then watching as Stephens drowned, according to a police affidavit.

Hessemer 'made no attempt to save Mr. Stephens,' said Lake Oswego Police Detective Anthony Sparling in an affidavit on file with Clackamas County Circuit Court, describing what he had seen in the surveillance video above the hot tub. 'Hessemer sat back down in the hot tub while Stephens was struggling to stay above the water.'

The hot tub jets were turned off and bubbles emerged from Stephens' body, the affidavit indicated.

The alleged murder took place at the pool/hot tub area of the apartment complex One Jefferson Parkway. The two men were alone when the incident occurred.

Hessemer, 23, was indicted Monday on the charge of murder in Clackamas County Circuit Court.

He was originally charged with manslaughter, but the grand jury elevated the charge. Hessemer pleaded not guilty Monday and an April 1 trial date was set. He is being held in Clackamas County Jail without bail.

The video showing Hessemer's actions seems to contradict his account of what happened late that Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

Hessemer told police that he and Stephens were in the hot tub and Hessemer briefly fell asleep. He said he woke up to find Stephens at the bottom of the hot tub, and he attempted to revive him.

Hessemer was crying at the time he gave police this account, according to the affidavit. His hair was still wet and he had on his swim trunks.

'He could not believe this happened and didn't know what he was going to say to Stephens' parents,' the affidavit said.

The affidavit noted Hessemer was intoxicated and had scrapes on the back of his left hand, which was purple and swollen.

The surveillance tape showed that, after Stephens went under, Hessemer left the hot tub area for 10 minutes. He then pulled Stephens' body out of the water.

Hessemer called police at 5:19 a.m. Police found Stephens half-way out of the hot tub, unconscious and not breathing. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hessemer said he had drunk about 10 beers that night and early morning, and Stephens had four or five mixed drinks and about five beers.

A search of Hessmer's apartment revealed an empty vodka bottle, a filled marijuana pipe and several beer bottles. A cocaine snifter was also found, the affidavit indicated.

The affidavit said there was a large blood stain near the hot tub.

'I have probable cause to believe that Mr. Hessemer has committed the crime of manslaughter in the second degree,' Lake Oswego Det. James Peterson said in the affidavit.

Stephens grew up in Puyallup, Wash., and received undergraduate and master's degrees from the University of Washington. He received his master's degree last year.

Hessemer grew up in Lake Oswego and went to Lakeridge High School.

Both Hessemer and Stephens were residents of an apartment complex at One Jefferson Parkway. Hessemer and Stephens lived in separate units in the apartment complex, police said.

Joel Gross, who was a friend of Stephens at UW, described Stephens as 'a nice, laid back guy.'

'I've never seen him violent,' he said.

Gross said he and Stephens were in the same fraternity.

'He was one of the most sociable people that I know and was friends with literally hundreds of others in the UW community alone,' Gross said.