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Freedom for Freeman?

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He's waited years to tell his story to state officials, and now he'll get that chance. Fredrick Freeman has an interview with the chair of the Michigan Parole Board, Barbara Sampson, scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 29.

"I've waited a long time for this," says Freeman, who's understandably anxious at this point. As he told News Hits on Friday when we visited with him at the Saginaw Correctional Facility, "I'm not sleeping. I don't know what to expect. This could change my life."

Freeman is serving a life sentence for the 1986 murder of Scott Macklem, a 20-year-old student at St. Clair County Community College. As detailed in our recent two-part series on the case ("Reasonable doubt," Aug. 1 and 8), Freeman was convicted with the uncorroborated testimony of a woman he once dated, a single eyewitness who put him at the scene, and a jailhouse snitch who later recanted his testimony about Freeman's supposed confession — even though others placed Freeman 450 miles away at the time of the killing.

Freeman has spent 20 years in prison. His appeals at the state level have been exhausted. A federal habeas corpus petition is pending in U.S. District Count in Detroit.

Freeman applied last year for a pardon or commutation of sentence from Gov. Jennifer Granholm. The first step of that process was consideration by the state Parole Board, which declined his request. The board then sent Freeman's application to Granholm, which meant that the case was officially still open when the governor formed the Executive Clemency Advisory Council in February, says Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lori Farmer.

"We went through and looked at some of the cases that had not been closed and this was one of them, and it was one of the ones that was chosen to go through the [new] process," Farmer says.

The clemency council examined his case at its Aug. 14 meeting and recommended it go to the Parole Board for re-consideration, says Farmer. But first Sampson will interview Freeman during a video teleconference. Sampson then will take the information to the Parole Board, which will vote in executive session whether to hold a public hearing for Freeman. Farmer says it's unknown when that vote could be.

Freeman's supporters are encouraged by the latest developments.

"I'm pleased and excited about the opportunity he has to talk to someone at the state who may be able to positively impact this horrible situation," says Bill Proctor, a WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) reporter who became an advocate for Freeman after airing a series of reports about his case in the 1990s.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com

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