Mental exam ordered for murder suspect

Photo: Nathaniel Freeman

A Stone County man accused in the shooting death of his wife will undergo mental health and fitness to proceed examinations, according to an order filed in Stone County Circuit Court late last month.

Fifty-five-year-old Nathaniel Freeman of Onia, near Timbo, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of 46-year-old Dora Freeman in September 2019.

Online court documents from Nathaniel Freeman’s attorney, James E. Hensley Jr. of Conway, indicate the Stone County man intends to rely on the defense of mental disease or defect.

According to the probable cause affidavit, the Stone County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call from a residence along Lee Hill Road on the afternoon of Sept. 23, 2019. The male caller did not state the reason for the call and dispatchers believed him to be intoxicated. Less than a half-hour later, the male called 911 again and said, “She shot me.”

When deputies arrived, they found Nathaniel Freeman on the kitchen floor of the residence with an apparent gunshot wound to his abdomen.

On the floor next to Nathaniel Freeman, they found his deceased wife with a .22-caliber revolver in her right hand.

Nathaniel Freeman was flown from the scene to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

At the request of the Stone County Sheriff’s Office, the Arkansas State Police was requested to investigate the shooting.

In the investigation, it was determined the .22-caliber revolver is a single action weapon. The revolver had two fired rounds in the cylinder, and the hammer was down on an unfired cartridge, indicating it had been fired twice. The report noted after being fired the second time, someone pulled the hammer back and eased it down on the unfired cartridge.

The report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory’s Medical Examiner’s Office, following an autopsy, indicates Dora Freeman was shot in the back of the head. The round was not a contact wound and wasn’t fired at a close distance. The medical examiner informed investigators Dora Freeman would not have been able to manipulate the revolver after being shot.

In addition, the report noted the location of the wound and the trajectory of the bullet which killed Dora Freeman was inconsistent with the revolver being in her right hand.

Witnesses told investigators Dora Freeman was planning to tell her husband that day she was leaving him and had been making plans for an alternate residence.

Nathaniel Freeman had reportedly made prior statements that if his wife left him, “it would be over his or her dead body.”

Dora Freeman was last seen about 3:20 on the day of the crime at a Mountain View business. She reportedly said “she was on the way home to gather her personal belongings and leave Nathaniel and indicated she was nervous how he would react.”

Investigators interviewed Nathaniel Freeman at his brother’s residence a week after the shooting. The Stone County man reportedly told investigators he and his wife had little conversation, after she returned home on the afternoon of the incident.

He said after being home a short time, she walked into the master bedroom and retrieved the revolver. Without saying anything, she came into the kitchen and shot him.

Nathaniel Freeman said he passed out, and when he awoke, he found his wife on the kitchen floor. He said he did not know she was dead and did not see the gun in her hand. He maintained he never fired or touched the weapon that day.

He told investigators he was drunk that day. He agreed his wife would get upset at his drinking and “this is the reason he was drinking that day.” He denied his wife had told him she was leaving him.

Freeman remains in the Stone County jail on a $1 million bond.

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