The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Sean Freese who is serving two back-to-back life sentences for fatally shooting his parents in their Davenport home in 2016.
Freese, 22, was convicted in October 2017 of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his parents, Kevin and Donna Freese, 58 and 57, respectively, and was sentenced the following month.
Freese shot his parents multiple times with his semi-automatic AR-15 multiple times in the master bedroom of the family's home at 1122 W. 59th St. just before 4 a.m. Oct. 5, 2016.
In a call from Scott County Jail, Freese told a friend he was tired of his parents' rules and how they treated him and snapped after an argument. He also said he originally planned to kill himself, then decided to get the gun and shoot his parents and then shoot himself.
"Well, half of that worked out," he said on the call.
The defense argued it was a crime of passion, not a premeditated murder, and urged the jury to find him guilty of voluntary manslaughter.
On appeal, Freese did not challenge whether he shot his parents or that his parents died as a result. He challenged whether he acted with “malice aforethought” and killed them deliberately, with premeditation or if it was with the specific intent to kill.
To bolster his argument, he argued the Freese home was calm around the time of the shootings and he “just snapped.”
The Court of Appeals rejected the argument and wrote in a Nov. 21 opinion the evidence showed he contemplated his actions before getting his gun.
“The jury was allowed to infer malice aforethought, premeditation, and a specific intent to kill upon the undisputed fact that Sean used a firearm against his parents,” the Court of Appeals wrote. “Those inferences are strengthened by the fact that Sean inflicted eight or nine gunshot wounds between his parents. Sean’s statements in his jailhouse phone call to a close friend show that Sean contemplated his actions beforehand, made the choice to shoot his parents, retrieved his firearm from his vehicle, and then effectuated his choice.”
Freese also argued District Court Judge John Telleen erred when he ordered him to pay a $125 law enforcement initiative surcharge on each murder count.
Iowa Code stated the surcharge is assessed on certain offenses, such as theft and burglary, when there is an adjudication of guilt or a deferred judgement. First-degree murder is not one of the offenses that the surcharge applies to.
The Court of Appeals in its written opinion vacated the surcharge and ordered a corrected sentencing order be filed.