BLUE EARTH - Brian Daniel Freeman pleaded innocent to charges of first-degree murder Monday during an arraignment hearing in front of Judge Douglas Richards.
Freeman's attorney, Scott Cutcher, chief public defender for the Fifth District, also requested a jury trial.
Freeman, 29, of Ceylon, faces 11 felony counts. He has been held in the Faribault County Jail since February on charges that he broke into a residence in Blue Earth in the early morning hours of Feb. 20, killed Christopher Fulmer, 37, and injured Freeman's wife, Candice, and her two teenage daughters. He is accused of causing head injuries to all four with a hammer.
Cutcher also informed the court that he plans to file a motion in the near future.
"We're looking at a couple things that happened with the grand jury," he said.
The next move will be for the judge to respond to the motion and to set a trial schedule, Cutcher said. The trial is expected to take three weeks.
The judge said he was looking at spring for a trial. Cutcher expects the judge to announce the dates soon after Thanksgiving.
"They'll probably send out notice sometime here shortly," said prosecutor Troy Timmerman.
Cutcher plans to argue that his client's actions were made in the "heat of passion."
"It doesn't excuse what happened," he said, "but takes into account the situation where someone basically snaps. It lowers what the penalty is [because it wasn't premeditated]."
Cutcher said Freeman would still face a "good amount of prison time" if he were convicted of third-degree murder.
"At least 86 months and it doesn't take into account [the charges for] other individuals involved," Cutcher noted.
Of the 11 felony counts Freeman faces, three pertain to Fulmer's death: Murder in the first degree with premeditation; murder in the first degree while committing or attempting to commit a burglary; and murder in the second degree with intent to effect the death of that person.
Freeman faces four counts pertaining to Candice Freeman, including: Attempted murder in the first degree with premeditation; attempted murder in the first degree while committing or attempting to commit a burglary; attempted murder in the second degree for attempting to cause the death of another; and assault in the first degree.
Freeman faces two counts of attempted murder in the second degree and two counts of assault in the first degree related to the injuries suffered by Candice Freeman's daughters.
Timmerman noted the multiple charges allow a jury to consider the lesser-included charges.