Friday, September 29, 2006

Wife and illegal Mexican immigrant lover found guilty of husband's murder

Emanuella Grinberg:

A jury took less than two hours Thursday to convict a woman and the lover she was hiding in her closet of first-degree murder for beating and strangling her husband.

Martha Freeman, 41, bowed her head at the defense table as the jury foreman read aloud the verdict for the death of her husband, Jeffrey Freeman, whose body was discovered in the bathroom of their home on April 11, 2005.

Co-defendant Rafael Rocha-Perez remained stoic even as Judge Randall Wyatt handed down mandatory life sentences for their roles in the 44-year-old victim's death.

Davidson County prosecutors said the speed of the verdict reaffirmed the strength of their case, which defense attorneys criticized for its lack of direct evidence.

"This verdict is a rejection of the defense attacks on the police and on an innocent man who died in an awfully brutal manner," said deputy assistant attorney general Tom Thurman.

Prosecutors conceded in closing arguments Thursday that they could not pin down the exact time Jeffrey Freeman died or the specific role either defendant played in his death.

Even so, they insisted that evidence of a relationship between Martha Freeman and Rocha-Perez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant, coupled with their behavior after the murder, proved their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Pair guilty of killing wife's mate

Strangled husband didn't die instantly

Prosecutors say woman and lover in closet planned to kill husband

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