Sean M. Freese showed no emotion Monday as a Scott County jury convicted him in the October 2016 deaths of his parents, Donna and Kevin.
The six-woman, six-man jury deliberated for less than 2½ hours before finding the 21-year-old Davenport man guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.
After the verdict was read and Freese was led away in handcuffs, family and friends of the Freeses cried and hugged each other and prosecutors.
Scott County Attorney Mike Walton, who tried the case along with Assistant Scott County Attorney Andrea Glasgow, said the verdict was “just.”
“Tragic, tragic case that, of course, should not have happened,” he said. “I wish it never did.”
Defense attorney Michael Motto Jr. said he was disappointed in the verdict, but said there are still post-trial motions, sentencing and other avenues to work.
He added that he and co-counsel Joel Walker are “optimistic that we can still figure something out.”
“He (Freese) was upset, but we told him this is just a step in the process,” Motto said. “We’ve still got things we can do, still things we can work on.”
Freese faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Nov. 15.
Prosecutors at trial argued Freese fatally shot his parents, Kevin and Donna Freese, 58 and 57 respectively, with his prized semi-automatic AR-15 in the master bedroom of the family’s home at 1122 W. 59th St. just before 4 a.m. Oct. 5, 2016.
In their closing arguments Monday, Walton and Motto agreed Freese was involved in the deaths of his parents.
They disagreed on whether he acted with malice of forethought and premeditation or in the heat of the moment.
Walton, the prosecutor, told jurors that Freese “made some decisions” that morning and that he had the option to walk way.
“Sean had a plan,” he said. “It was a horrible, terrible, poorly thought-out plan with absolutely awful and devastating consequences.”
He pointed to statements Freese made to a friend, Devin Munn, in a jailhouse phone call later on Oct. 5, 2016.
During the call, Freese said he was tired of his parents’ rules and the way they treated him and, after getting in a huge argument with them, he “snapped.”
Freese went on to say 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.
Prosecutors presented text messages between Freese and his mother that began just before midnight Oct. 4, 2016. The two had argued about his missed curfew and unfinished school work.
Freese, who had a curfew of 11:45 p.m., told a Davenport police detective that he had dropped off his then-girlfriend, Ellyott Collins, and had gone to a convenience store to buy a soda when he arrived home shortly after midnight on Oct. 5, 2016.
Eventually, Donna Freese unlocked the door and let him into the house.
Walton pointed to a neighbor’s surveillance video that showed that Freese’s GMC Envoy never left its regular spot in front of the house from that point on until just after his parents were killed.
Walton said at 3:40 a.m., the surveillance video showed a figure retrieve a long object from the trunk of the vehicle and walked toward the Freese house.
Walton said a neighbor reported hearing gunshots at 3:55 a.m. Several minutes later, the video shows the figure walk back out to the vehicle, place the object inside, and drive off.
The car returned and left several times and returned for the last time at 4:41 a.m. Freese called 911 at 4:46 a.m., Walton said.
The couple were shot multiple times, a forensic pathologist testified at trial.
“You don’t shoot someone several times without deliberate and fixed intent to do injury,” Walton argued.
In his closing argument, Motto, the defense lawyer, also pointed to the jailhouse phone call and said that it showed Freese “snapped” and that this was a crime of passion, not a premeditated murder.
He pointed to the text messages between Freese and his mother, saying there was no evidence that these “dispassionate” messages would lead to him to shoot his parents 3½ hours later.
Motto pointed to his cross-examination of a DNA expert, who said she found blood underneath Donna Freese’s fingernails. Motto also noted that Freese had scratches on his chest.
The evidence suggests that something else happened during that 3½-hour time frame, he said.
“There is no discernible reason for this tragedy to occur at 4 in the morning based on the state’s version of events,” he said.
Motto argued that police were too quick to investigate this as a first-degree murder case and urged jurors to instead find Freese guilty of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.