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Judge denies all defense motions in murder case

By Staff | Oct 28, 2012

Brian Freeman

Attorneys for a 29-year-old Ceylon man charged in the February murder of a Blue Earth man have been dealt a setback.

Faribault County District Court Judge Douglas Richards has ruled evidence and statements collected by law officers during their investigation was legally obtained.

Brian Daniel Freeman has been charged with 11 felony counts, including two first-degree murder charges in the early-morning death of 37-year-old Christopher Fulmer on Feb. 20.

He also is accused of severely injuring his wife, Candice, and her two teenage daughters.

Defense attorney Scott Cutcher says he will not comment until he sees and reviews the judge’s ruling.

Richards denied three defense motions made during a July 17 omnibus hearing.

Freeman’s lawyers asked Richards to toss out statements their client made to officers and evidence seized from searches of his vehicle and a plastic bag.

The defense also sought dismissal of a grand jury indictment resulting in two first-degree murder charges, two counts of first-degree attempted murder and three charges of first-degree assault.

Defense attorneys argue Freeman’s rights were violated because investigators failed to advise him of his Miranda rights and illegally obtained evidence without search warrants.

Freeman’s lawyers say authorities coerced him when he was questioned.

In his order, Richards says Freeman’s statements to officer were made voluntarily as defined under state law.

“The ultimate question of voluntariness is whether the defendant’s will was overborne at the time of the question,” wrote Richards.

The judge says officers did not make threats or promises and did not use deception or trickery.

Richards says Freeman was not deprived of any comforts at any time during his interviews.

“The defendant testified that he cooperated with law enforcement because he did not want to appear as a suspect,” says the order.

Richards says a Miranda warning was not required when Freeman was interviewed at United Hospital in Blue Earth, the first time at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester and at his home in Ceylon because he was not in custody.

The judge says Freeman was not restrained by handcuffs nor limited in movement and the tone of the interviews was conversational rather than adversarial or accusatory.

“The officers did not tell defendant that he was a prime suspect and before at least one of the interviews, the officer told the defendant that he was not under arrest,” wrote Richards.

The order says officers asked Freeman if they could speak to him and did not tell him he needed to cooperate. He also was able to make telephone calls at any time during the interviews.

Richards says Freeman was properly given a Miranda warning the second time he was questioned at St. Marys.

At that time, Freeman was taken into custody after giving authorities a second version of what happened.

In not dismissing the indictment, Richards says prosectors met a 14-day time period requirement in notifying the court that the case would be presented to a grand jury.