There will not be a trial for a 30-year-old Ceylon man charged in the February 2012 murder of a Blue Earth man.
Brian Daniel Freeman pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree intentional murder without premeditation and three counts of first-degree assault in Faribault County District Court on Monday.
County Attorney Troy Timmerman considers the case coming to an end, "more of a resolution than a plea bargain."
Timmerman and assistant County Attorney LaMar Piper explain that if Freeman had been convicted of first-degree felony murder, he would have been eligible for parole after serving 30 years.
As a result of his guilty pleas, with good time Freeman would serve 33 years of a 49 1/2-year prison term.
"We were able to get a conviction for each of the victims," says Timmerman.
Defense attorney Scott Cutcher says talks of settling the case without a trial started shortly after a July omnibus hearing, in which his client pled not guilty to 11 felony counts.
"To be effective for your client and prudent, you have to listen to and consider what the prosecutor is offering," says Cutcher.
According to the criminal complaint, Freeman was wearing a mask when he entered the home and hit Christopher Fulmer, 37, in the head, killing him. He also hit his wife, Candice Freeman, and her two teenage daughters, before calling 911.
Defense attorneys in the past have said they would argue the attack happened in the "heat of passion."
The trial was scheduled to begin March 26 and run through April 12. "Frankly, there is comfort for him that rather than dying in prison, there is an out date," says Cutcher.
On one of the charges Freeman was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison without being eligible for parole.
During Monday's hearing, County Attorney Judge Douglas Richards asked Timmerman if the victims has been informed of the guilty pleas.
"My understanding is they have and it is acceptable," he told the judge.
In addition to meeting the wishes of the victims, local law enforcement and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Timmerman says, the need to protect the public also was considered.
"I think we accomplished all those goals," he says.
Piper says not having a trial prevents the victims from having to relive a horrible experience.
"All that didn't have to be drudged up. They are all in counseling and didn't want to go back and have to start from scratch," he says.
Court papers say authorities got a call around 12:30 a.m. on Feb. 20 from a man who said something about a murder and the dispatcher heard screaming.
Law officers found Fulmer in bed in an upstairs bedroom, dead, and lying on his back with significant head trauma. Candice Freeman was found on the same bed, injured and pleading for help, says the court complaint.
The teens, ages 19 and 15 at the time, were also injured. The Freemans have a younger daughter together, who was unhurt.
Freeman left the house after calling 911 and drove back to his home in Ceylon. He was arrested later that night at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester.
Authorities found two masks in his car while searching it at the hospital parking lot in Blue Earth.
They also saw him put a garbage bag in his car while at his home in Ceylon. It had clothing that contained human blood.