Freeman pleads guilty, awaits sentencing

Published 10:57 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2011

With only a handful of people in the courtroom, Tripp Dennis Freeman pleaded guilty Tuesday to four charges stemming from sexual activity with minors.

Freeman had been indicted by the Pike County Grand Jury in May 2010 on three counts of sodomy first degree, two counts of enticing a child, and one count of attempted sodomy first degree. One count of enticing a child and one count of sodomy were dropped during Tuesday’s court appearance, pursuant to Freeman entering a guilty plea for all other charges.

With his feet bound together by chain and his hands tied in front of him, Freeman stood before Circuit Judge Shannon Clark as she asked him if he understood what was taking place.

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Freeman looked to his attorney, J. Carlton Taylor, and they nodded at each other before he quietly answered, “Yes, ma’am.”

Until Tuesday, Freeman’s voiced plea was “not guilty” and both his defense attorney and the Pike County District Attorney’s Office were prepared for a trial that was expected to begin Dec. 12. Jury selection was to start today.

Freeman’s plea was a blind one. Instead of accepting a previous plea offer by District Attorney Tom Anderson for a finite sentence, Freeman’s future now rests in the hands of the judge.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement with the prosecution,” said Taylor on behalf of Freeman. “Mr. Freeman is obviously remorseful about the acts and wants to address them in front of the court.”

Freeman, as well as the families of his victims, will have until Jan. 31, 2012, to decide what they’d like to say to the judge. Freeman’s sentencing is set for that day at 9 a.m.

“We look forward to the sentencing hearing so we can argue the best sentence to ensure justice for the victims and their families,” Anderson said.

Freeman, who was 20 at the time of his arrest, was accused of sexual misconduct with children he came in contact with between 2005 to 2010 while working as a part-time scorekeeper at Troy Parks and Recreation and through Freeman’s involvement with Bush Memorial Baptist Church.

Because his victims were minors, Freeman’s two Class A felony sodomy charges will each carry a minimum of 20 years in prison with up to a $60,000 fine and his Class B felony attempted sodomy charge will mean no less than 10 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine. The charge of enticing a child for immoral purposes, a Class C felony, could carry a punishment of imprisonment of up to 10 years and a possible $15,000 fine.

Clark also noted that because Freeman’s victims were minors, there will be no possibility for parole or probation. Taylor did reserve the right to appeal, referencing a violation of the Eighth Amendment as “no possibility” being cruel and unusual punishment and the right to appeal in case of an excessive sentence.

In addition to time served and fines, Freeman will be required to register as a sex offender, pay up to $10,000 per case into the Alabama Crime Victim’s Compensation Commission Fund, pay restitution to any victim if it is found due and cover court and attorney fees. Freeman will remain in the Pike County Jail until his sentencing.