Grand jury says yes to 1st-degree
A 29-year-old Ceylon man now faces 11 felony charges instead of seven in the February murder of a 37-year-old Blue Earth man and beatings of his wife and her two teenage daughters.
A grand jury sat through two days of testimony at the Faribault County Courthouse before filing new charges against Brian Daniel Freeman.
The 23 jurors issued the indictment late Friday afternoon, June 22.
“Their decision is appropriate, the facts bear it out,” says County Attorney Troy Timmerman.
Freeman had been charged with second-degree murder, now he also faces two counts of first-degree murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
One of the first-degree charges involves premeditation.
Timmerman says if the jury convicts Freeman but finds his actions were not premeditated, he would be eligible for parole.
The indictment also lists two new charges of first-degree attempted murder and three counts of first-degree assault.
In addition, Freeman still faces three originally filed charges of second-degree attempted murder.
On Monday, Judge Douglas Richards read the indictment charges to Freeman, who appeared with his defense attorneys Scott Cutcher and Carrie Leone.
Cutcher says the prosecution contacted him about a week before the grand jury convened.
“We’re not surprised at all with the outcome. The grand jury hears from all the prosecution’s witnesses. It’s their baby,” he says.
Richards ordered the prosecution turn over transcripts. He told the defense attorneys the information must be kept confidential and it is for their use only.
During the grand jury hearing, Timmerman and assistant County Attorney Lamar Piper questioned eight witnesses for more than 10 hours.
“The hearings were held in secret, not even his defense attorneys knew when they were going to take place,” says Timmerman.
The state’s witnesses included Sheriff Mike Gormley, Blue Earth police officers Todd Purvis and Mike Hotzler, three Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents and Freeman’s wife.
County officials would not say how many jurors voted to indict Freeman. However, one of the five basic rules of a grand jury requires at least 12 jurors to find “probable cause.”
Cutcher says his client was well prepared and not taken back by the jurors’ decision.
“We talked with him and told him what might happen,” he says. “This certainly makes it a lot more mentally intense for him and us.”
Freeman remains in custody on $2 million bail.