Child sex convict challenging statute that bars chance of parole

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Troy man sentenced to 65 years in prison on multiple child sex offenses is attempting to appeal that a statute preventing his sentence from being shortened is unconstitutional.

Tripp Dennis Freeman was convicted on Feb. 3, 2012 on three counts of first-degree sodomy, two counts of enticing a child and a count of attempted first-degree sodomy. One count of enticing a child and one count of sodomy were dropped during a Dec. 11, 2011 court appearance, pursuant to Freeman entering a guilty plea for all other charges.

Of his 65-year-sentence, 60 years was to be spent without the possibility of parole based on an Alabama statute that does not allow the possibility of parole, suspension or good time received for people convicted of child sex crimes.

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District Attorney Tom Anderson said Freeman has withdrawn his guilty plea in order to preserve the issue for appeal.

“That was not preserved at the trial level so he could not raise an appeal,” Anderson said. “We made a deal with the defense counsel that he would withdraw his guilty plea to preserve that issue for appeal and immediately plea guilty to the same sentence he is currently serving.”

Anderson said prosecutors made the deal to avoid the possibility of a judge throwing out the original sentence on the grounds that Freeman received ineffective counsel, which Anderson said would have put the case “back at square one.”

The deal simply allows Freeman to move forward with challenging the constitutionality of the statutory enhancement on the sentence; Anderson said there is no guarantee that the appeal would be granted.

Freeman’s charges stem from accusations 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. Investigators reported that 17 victims came forward, but some families didn’t want to put children through a trial, and in some cases there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute.