Jury: Mary Higdon not guilty of murder in shooting death of Steven Freeman

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Mary Katherine Higdon, the woman charged with murder in the Aug. 1, 2018, shooting death of Steven Andrew Freeman, her boyfriend, has been acquitted of all charges.

Higdon, who was facing a possible sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.
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Prior to standing trial, Higdon had been presented with a plea bargain.

“The case was continued from the prior calendar. Prior to that trial calendar, she was offered a plea of life with the possibility of parole,” said Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Ben Coker.

Higdon declined to accept the state’s plea bargain.

During the more than week-long trial, her defense team presented an argument alleging she acted in self defense, claiming she suffered from Battered Woman Syndrome.

When asked if Higdon presented evidence of having been battered, Coker said, “She did. She presented her own testimony, plus they had an expert they called who testified she exhibited some of the signs of Battered Woman Syndrome, but we also presented an expert that said she didn’t.”

There were no law enforcement reports documenting a history of domestic violence, nor were any medical records presented as evidence.

According to the initial law enforcement incident report, Higdon made a differing statement to responding officers, claiming the shooting was unintentional.

“I had contact with Mary Katherine Higdon, who was with Patrolman Johnson in the back bedroom of the residence, and she stated that her gun ‘went off’ when she was handing it to her boyfriend, Steven Freeman,” reported Griffin Police Department Master Patrol Officer Brian Earls. He later stated, “Higdon repeated over and over that ‘she didn’t understand what happened and that she never kept a round in the chamber.’”
Coker said he believes his office presented a strong case against Higdon.

“I thought my assistants and law enforcement presented a strong case – evidentiary,” he said. “Any time you face a battered wife defense, it’s never easy because there isn’t an objective standard. It’s all subjective. I thought we presented a very strong case.”

Although he disagrees with the verdict, Coker said he respects the outcome of the case.

“My heart goes out to the family and friends of Steven Freeman. While I am certainly disappointed in the outcome of the case, as an officer of the court, I must respect the verdict,” he said.

Higdon had been incarcerated in the Spalding County Jail since the night of the shooting.

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