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Donna Marie FREEMAN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 2, 2011
Date of arrest: October 1, 2011
Date of birth: 1978
Victim profile: Charles Ike Mason Jr., 85
Method of murder: Shooting (.22 caliber rifle)
Location: Helena, Jackson County, Mississippi, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to 27 years in prison on March 13, 2014
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Helena woman gets 27 years in murder of junkyard owner Charles Mason

By April M. Havens -

March 13, 2014

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- Donna Marie Freeman, of the Helena community, was sentenced to 27 years in prison this morning after pleading guilty to second degree murder related to the 2011 shooting death of 85-year-old Charles Ike Mason Jr.

Judge Robert Krebs sentenced her to 27 years, day-for-day, court costs and a $1,000 fine. In exchange for her guilty plea, the state dropped her capital murder charge.

Freeman, 36, was also sentenced to 25 years in prison -- seven to serve and 18 years under post-release supervision (five of those reporting) -- to run consecutive to the second degree murder sentence in an unrelated burglary of a dwelling offense.

Freeman will also be made to pay court costs, a $1,000 fine and cannot have contact with the victim's family. The state dropped a possession of stolen property charge in exchange for the guilty plea.

When the judge asked Freeman why she thought she was guilty of second degree murder, she said simply, "I shot and killed Charles Mason."

Freeman was charged alongside Jeffrey Grey Allen in the March 2011 death of Mason, a Helena resident who owned Mason's Junkyard on Hog Island in east Jackson County.

In October, Allen was found guilty of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison.

The state said that Freeman and Mason had been romantically involved previously, and Mason had bought Freeman vehicles and other items.

"He took care of her," Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade said today.

Freeman and Allen, who was her new boyfriend, were at Mason's home to borrow money the day he was killed.

"He ended up losing his life because of their greed," Wade said.

Freeman shot Mason one time in the back with a .22 caliber rifle, authorities said at the time of the arrests, and then took thousands of dollars and a cell phone from him.

Before Krebs handed down the sentence, defense attorney Arthur Carlisle asked him to follow the state's recommendation of 27 years.

"This has been a very difficult case," Carlisle said. "Ms. Freeman lived a pretty good life until she met the co-defendant in this case," which he said was about two months prior to Mason's death.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence said he thinks Freeman's sentence was fair and means she is "being held accountable for taking the life of another human being."

"If there was anybody ever under the spell of someone, Donna was under the spell of Jeffrey Allen," he said outside court.

"There's no doubt in my mind," he said. "What she did that night, she did because I think he absolutely told her to and made her do it."

The defendants "took advantage of Mr. Mason's generosity to satisfy their own greed," Lawrence said. "This case is an example of how the mixture of guns and drugs can have a devastating effect on people's lives."

In court, Freeman told several of Mason's daughters she was "so sorry" for what she did and asked for forgiveness.

Emotions were too high for one daughter, who dashed out of the courtroom in tears as Freeman spoke.

Mason's family had issued a statement during the proceedings, which Wade read aloud.

Mason, who had 14 children and 24 grandchildren, was "healthy and hardworking," the statement said.

"We will always live our lives never understanding that his life was taken by the defendant, Donna Freeman, a person that he constantly gave so much to," it said. "One thing about our father was that he helped everybody. Today, we will still walk out of here without a father, all simply for him giving to and helping others."


Woman admits she shot junkyard owner

By Karen Nelson -

March 13, 2014

PASCAGOULA -- Donna Marie Freeman told the court Thursday, "I shot and killed Charles Mason," and Judge Robert Krebs sentenced her to 27 years to serve day for day.

But District Attorney Tony Lawrence said later he believes she was under the spell of her boyfriend, Jeffrey Allen, who led her down the path that ended in Mason's death.

Allen also shot Mason and is serving life without parole for capital murder.

Thursday morning, Freeman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the 2011 killing. Mason, the owner of Mason's Junkyard on Hog Island in east Jackson County, was shot at his home at the junkyard.

During her hearing, she turned to Mason's family, sitting on the front row, and said, "I'm so sorry. I hope y'all find it in your heart to forgive me."

But before she finished, a member of Mason's family stood abruptly and almost ran from the courtroom.

Freeman, 36, also pleaded guilty to an unrelated burglary and was sentenced to serve an additional seven years after she finishes her time for murder. She's ordered to pay court costs in both cases, be under supervision for five years after her release, pay $2,000 in fines and never contact Mason's family.

A friend to many

Mason was a wiry veteran of World War II who at 85 still did a lot of his own work around the junkyard.

He had taken care of Freeman, buying her a trailer and a car, Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade told the judge, but he did not approve of her relationship with Allen. Wade said there was jealousy and confrontation.

Mason's family said he was a healthy, hardworking father of 14, grandfather of 24 and friend to many.

"We will always live our lives never understanding that his life was taken by the defendant, Donna Freeman, a person that he constantly gave so much to," they said in a statement, read to the judge. "One thing about our father was that he helped everybody."

Afterward, Krebs allowed Freeman's mother to see her in private. The mother emerged from a room adjacent to the courtroom so emotional that courthouse officials called for a wheelchair, and she was wheeled from the building.

'She'll pay for her acts'

The state did not seek the death penalty for Allen or Freeman.

But Lawrence said Freeman will be in her 60s before she gets out of jail.

"She'll pay for her acts," he said. And Mason's family had already been put through one grueling trial with Allen.

In Allen's case, it came out that the pair went to Mason's home for money. Mason was known to carry a roll of large bills in his pocket. Witnesses said Mason had gotten fed up with Freeman and Allen and their relationship and planned to cut off any financial support to her.

Freeman shot Mason one time in the back with a .22 caliber rifle and then took thousands of dollars and a cellphone from him. Then Allen shot him. Allen later helped law officers find the murder weapon, which had been tossed in a waterway in east Jackson County.

Freeman told the judge she was married and has three sons -- 15, 17 and 18. Her attorney Arthur Carlisle told the judge she "lived a pretty good life" until she met Allen, about two months before they killed Mason.


Three indicted in 2011 shooting death of Charles Mason Jr.

By April M. Havens -

July 13, 2012

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- Three people have been indicted in connection to the March 2, 2011, shooting death of Charles Ike Mason Jr., Sheriff Mike Byrd said Friday.

Jeffery "Juice" Allen and Donna Marie Freeman were indicted for capital murder, and Joshua Keith Davis was indicted for accessory after the fact.

No further arrests or charges are expected in the case, Byrd said.

A scrap yard customer found Mason, the owner of Mason's Junkyard on Hog Island, shot to death inside his Helena home last March.

Authorities have said that Freeman confessed to shooting Mason one time in the back, but she claimed Allen was holding a knife to her throat and made her shoot him.

Allen told authorities he was in a car outside the house when Freeman ran out to tell him that she shot Mason.

During a preliminary hearing in January, authorities said both Allen and Freeman agree that they were at Mason's house to borrow money from the 86-year-old man. They also agree that Freeman shot Mason, and Allen took the .22 caliber rifle from her and cocked it.

Authorities said Allen and Freeman took $4,000 from Mason's pocket and a cell phone, and then they drove to the bridge on Saracennia Road and tossed the rifle and the cell phone in the water.

The rifle was recovered after Allen told investigators where to search, testimony revealed.

Authorities also claimed Freeman had a sexual relationship with Mason before she became involved with Allen a few weeks before the elderly man's death.

Davis, 24, had not been previously arrested but was indicted by a grand jury. He was served the indictment Friday at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center, where he was being held on unrelated charges.

Freeman was also served her indictment Friday at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center, where she was being held on the capital murder charge.

Allen is in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections on probation violation charges. He has a detainer for the capital murder charge.

Arraignment will take place in Judge Robert Krebs' courtroom on July 18, according to District Attorney Tony Lawrence's office.

Capital murder carries a maximum penalty of death by lethal injection, and life in prison without parole is another option.

Accessory after the fact carries a maximum of $1,000 fine and a five- year sentence.


Charles Mason case: Donna Freeman of St. Martin charged with murder of Helena junkyard owner

By Cherie Ward - The Mississippi Press

October 1, 2011

PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- Jackson County Sheriff Mike Byrd said Donna Marie Freeman spent most of the early morning hours today crying in her cell at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center.

The 33-year-old St. Martin woman was arrested shortly after midnight and charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Charles Ike Mason.

Capital murder is a killing committed along with additional felonies. In Mason's death, Byrd said robbery is the underlying felony.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of death by lethal injection in Mississippi. Life in prison is another possible penalty.

"All that is reason enough for her to cry all morning," Byrd said, "and there may be possibly other persons arrested for this murder."

Anyone with additional information should call the Sheriff's Office at 228-769-3063.

Mason, 86, was the owner of Mason's Junkyard on Hog Island, and was found shot to death inside his home on March 2 by a patron of the scrap yard.

Byrd said Jackson County Sheriff's investigators believe Freeman took an undisclosed amount of cash after shooting Mason one time in the back with some type of rifle.

"We haven't found the rifle yet, but we think we know where it is," Byrd said. "Mr. Mason always walked around with cash in his pocket. We feel like she knew this and that's why this happened. She took the money out of his left pocket after she shot him."

Byrd said investigators do have DNA evidence in the case, but declined to elaborate.

Detectives believe Freeman was an acquaintance of Mason's for about two years.

"We know that she did know him," Byrd said. He declined to elaborate further about their relationship.

Freeman will have an initial hearing Monday in Jackson County Court before Judge Larry Wilson.

Byrd said capital murder suspects usually do not receive bail and since Freeman was already out of jail on a previous bail, she would most likely remain behind bars.

Investigators first arrested Freeman on March 31 along with Jeffery Grey Allen, 32, and Clinton Ellis George, 31, on charges of burglarizing a dwelling.

Freeman was accused in that case of luring away a homeowner in the Harleston community on March 15, while Allen and George broke into the victim's home and stole property.

All three were released on $5,000 in March.

Byrd said if the judge deems Freeman should remain jailed until trial, he would decide where to house Freeman.

"We're just not sure where we will keep her, at this point," Byrd said.

Byrd said detectives working the case interviewed more than 40 people who had a possible connection to the shooting death, including convicted murderer Coda Lloyd Vice, who was cleared in April of suspicion in Mason's death.

"So solving it took time," Byrd said. "We had to rule out everyone. We are 100 percent sure that she is the person that committed this crime."

Byrd credited Sgt. Chad Heck and Lt. Ken McClenic for taking the lead in the case and making the arrest.

Capt. Mick Sears and investigators Jeff Smith, Randy Muffly and Mickie Powell also worked on the case.

"We have a group of investigators dedicated to their job and they wanted to see this solved as much as anyone," Byrd said. "This is a tremendous relief to us."

Byrd said Mason's family also was relieved.

"Two of his sons broke down and wept," Byrd said. "They were so thankful an arrest has been made. Hopefully, this will give them some closure."



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