Judge Finds Enough Evidence In Murder Case Against Freeman
A district court judge decided last week there is enough evidence against accused murderer Michael Bryan Freeman to send the case to a grand jury.
Judge Carlton Terry heard testimony from Freeman’s wife, Tracey, and from Michael Foster’s ex-wife, DyAnn Cole. Both were present in the mobile home where Foster was allegedly assaulted by Freeman April 7. Cole called an ambulance when she found Foster unresponsive in a bathroom at the home, and he died days later.
Michael Freeman did not testify.
According to Tracey Freeman, she and Freeman, who is 46, have been married almost 12 years and both are on disability. She said she has a learning disability and that Freeman takes medication, but she does not know for what purpose.
That night, she said, Michael Foster arrived by scooter at the Freeman home off NC 801 South near Greasy Corner around 8 p.m. She said Foster had been drinking and brought a few beers, but Freeman, she said, was not drinking because he’d quit some time before.
At some point, Freeman decided he wanted some liquor for a scratchy throat.
“I knowed that was not a good idea. I don’t like drinking and he knows it,” Tracey testified.
She, Foster and Freeman got into a truck and went to the ABC store in Cooleemee, pulling around back to avoid the cameras, she said. While Foster went into the store to buy some brown liquor, she and Freeman went into a discount store and bought potting soil, roses and a pack of cigarettes.
Assistant DA Greg Brown asked Tracey if she knew what type of liquor it was, and she answered, “100 percent is all I know.”
Back at the mobile home, the men drank the liquor from glasses and from the bottle. Tracey said she had a drop of liquor in a glass, filling it the rest of the way with Mountain Dew.
The men eventually moved to the kitchen.
Tracey said, “Mr. Foster, he’s a headache. All he wants to do is repeat himself, repeat himself. I can’t believe he (Freeman) allowed it in the house.”
At some point, Foster announced he had to use the bathroom and the men went outside. About 15 minutes later, Freeman tapped on the door, calling Tracey to go outside. Freeman was untying rope off the porch railing and told Tracey he was going to tie Foster up and “take him to a different county.” Foster was on the ground, but Tracey said, “I heard him lashing out, cussing, like he done got back up again. I seen Mr. Freeman (she referred to her husband as Mr. Freeman throughout the hearing) kick Mr. Foster with his boots, in the legs mainly. He hit him in the head with his fist. He was laying it on him, letting him know who he was and that he wasn’t gonna take no crap out of him. I didn’t want to get in the middle. I was afraid I’d get hurt.”
She said it appeared Foster was unconscious.
Michael Freeman helped Foster back into the house, seating him in a rocking chair, and Cole arrived. It was around 12:30 a.m., Tracey said, but added she wasn’t sure because she doesn’t wear a watch and doesn’t like to keep up with the time.
Cole brought gifts, “a plug-in Jesus night light and aluminum foil,” Tracey said. “She was standing there and Mr. Freeman was standing in front of her, and he said ‘You let me know if Mr. Foster beats up on you anymore’ and Mr. Foster didn’t like that.” Freeman kicked the chair Foster was in backwards, and it took the three of them to upright the chair with Foster still in it. Freeman helped Foster to the bathroom, and Tracey and Cole stayed on the couch.
“I knew to stay put. I didn’t want to get in the middle. I mind my own business,” Tracey testified.
Foster stayed in the bathroom, Michael Freeman went to sleep on the couch, and Tracey and Cole slept in the Freeman’s bed. Cole got up, found Foster and called the ambulance, but Tracey said she slept through that and only woke up when EMS workers were taking Foster out of the home.
Freeman’s attorney Dan Dolan asked Tracey about her disability, which she said was MR.
“Is that mental retardation?” Dolan asked. Tracey said she didn’t know.
She has held jobs, but has had cancer and a blood clot, saying her medical issues may affect her memory.
Dolan asked her about Foster being at the home, and she said, “I don’t dig guys coming over to the house. I don’t have no association with any man but Mr. Freeman. I don’t think it’s right to have people over.”
She said when the men went outside there were a great deal of cursing by Foster and that she saw Freeman with his arm around Foster’s neck but remembered Freeman did help Foster up off the ground once. Dolan repeatedly asked Tracey what time events took place, and most of her answers were that she did not know, could not recall and could not remember.
Dolan asked her how big Foster was and she said she didn’t know because she doesn’t look at other men.
She saidshe didn’t want to be in court, that she was sitting in her recliner minding her own business and that she wouldn’t have been in court had she not been subpoenaed.
Dolan asked her how she got to the courthouse and she said detectives drove her there and told her they would take her back home after she testified. He asked her if she had been handcuffed and she said, “No. Why would I be handcuffed? I hadn’t done nothing. And somebody been messing around my house every night, and when I find out who, they’re going to jail. I’m tired of being messed with.”
Brown asked her if she was threatened or forced to be in court, and she said no.
“Are you here of your own free will?” he asked. She said she was.
Dolan questioned Tracey again, “You testified you were here of your own free will but you testified you would not be here but for that subpoena?”
Tracey said, “Yes.”
To Brown’s next question, Tracey clarified she told Brown when he called her that she would testify and that took place before she received the subpoena.
Dolan asked her if she realized because of marital privilege, she did not have to testify and she said she did know that.
Cole testified she and Foster were married for less than a year, from June 25, 2010 to June 10, 2011 but even though they were divorced, they stayed together. She and Foster were both on disability, she for her eyesight and he for clinical depression. She is a tractor-trailer driver and said she has had surgery on one eye and will soon have surgery on the other, and hopes to be able to get back on the road.
The day of the incident, she recalled, she had gone to Foster’s mother’s home on Riverdale Road to do laundry, and when she got back, she and Foster ate supper. Shortly after, she went to get her car that was having work done on it, and when she got back, Foster was gone on his Moped. She didn’t know where he had gone, but finally located him at the Freeman’s, talking to Michael Freeman on the phone.
Although Freeman told her to wait awhile before going to the house, she went early, worried about her ex-husband.
When she got there, sometime between 10:30 and 11:40 p.m., Foster was in the rocking chair, with a scratch with dried blood on it on top of his head. She said she pulled him to her and kissed him on top of his head, telling him to give her a few minutes and she’d get him out of there. She sat on the couch beside Tracey, hoping Tracey would tell her what had happened, she said.
Foster was not in the shape she was accustomed to. He was not wearing a ball cap, socks or shoes, all unusual. He was wearing a t-shirt that was not his, with a number three on the front.
“Mr. Freeman said he gave that to my Michael because of Dale Earnhardt and also because of the trinity, God, the Father and the Holy Ghost,” she said.
Foster was slumped over in the chair, but Freeman told her not to worry, that he was going to give Foster a shot that would, in an hour and a half, help him to “not even have a hangover.”
Minutes later, Freeman accused Foster of stealing his pocket knife and that is why he kicked over the chair, she said. She alone set the chair with Foster in it upright, telling Freeman to search his own pockets for the knife, which he did, subsequently finding the knife in his pocket.
Foster said he had to go to the bathroom, and Freeman told her he’d take him, so they went down the hallway. A few minutes later, she said, while she was on her way to the bathroom to check on Foster, Freeman came toward her.
“He had an ice cream and said ‘Eat it,’ and I said I can’t, I’m lactose. And he said ‘Well eat the chocolate off it,’ and I told him to put it up so he could eat it later.”
She said she believed Freeman was trying to prevent her from going to check on her ex.
When she was finally able to get away from Freeman and Tracey, she went to the bathroom to check on Foster and found him breathing hard. She called 911 and reported it as a possible Moped accident. When the EMS workers arrived, they left the front door open and Freeman complained he had a sore throat and they shouldn’t leave the door hanging open, she said.
Foster was transported first to a hospital in Rowan County, then to Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, where he underwent surgery but died in ICU on April 11. He was 51.
On questioning by Dolan, Cole said Foster was on medication for diabetes, blood pressure, back pain and anxiety and that it was not uncommon for him to drink six to 12 beers a day.
“But he had been sober for two months, until his daughter had a baby, and then he went on a three-week drunk because of that,” she said.
When she went to the mobile home, she took items, including coffee and some music CDs. She said she also took some beer in case Foster woke up sober, because she knew if he did and she gave him some more alcohol, she could get him home without an argument.
She did not mention taking the light-up Jesus or aluminum foil.
At the mobile home, she said Freeman gave her a Valium but that she spit it out into her hand and gave it to Tracey.
She admitted she did not call 911 right away, because she was “trying to avoid a fuss” from Freeman.
In his closing argument, Dolan asked the charge of murder be dropped, as there was no concrete evidence as to how many strikes or kicks Foster sustained. He also said there was no autopsy to suggest the death was caused by blunt force trauma.
“There is no autopsy. We only know he is dead,” he said.
Judge Terry concluded there was sufficient evidence to find probable cause on Freeman’s charges of assault inflicting serious bodily injury and murder and bound the case over to Superior Court.
Dolan asked for bond, but Terry denied that.
Freeman’s cases, as well as charges of DWI and unsafe movement, are scheduled for the May 19 session of Superior Court.
An autopsy has been done, according to Chief J.D. Hartman of the Davie County Sheriff’s Department, but the official results are not yet available.