A man who broadsided Bibb County sheriff’s deputy T.J. Freeman during a late-night car chase through Macon last year was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday for his part in the lawman’s death.
Martavius Kinder, 26, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and fleeing and eluding charges during a Bibb County Superior Court hearing.
Toward the end of the hearing, Kinder apologized for his actions.
“I know my ‘sorrys’ can’t bring your loved one back,” he said.
Kinder’s lawyer had asked that he serve 15 years behind bars, but after tearful remarks from Freeman’s widow and his mother, Judge Howard Simms gave Kinder the two-decade sentence.
The judge told Kinder he had already been given a break when prosecutors opted not to pursue a felony murder charge against Kinder.
“You got your deal,” Simms said.
Kinder’s attorney, Franklin J. Hogue, said that on the night of the crash Kinder stopped to ask people in a car along Eisenhower Parkway if they needed help. It was wee hours of May 5, 2016. Kinder thought he was pulling over to help a stranded motorist. But as chance had it, the people in the car were plainclothes investigators conducting surveillance on a building nearby that had been burglarized.
After the deputies said they didn’t need help, Kinder left and the deputies followed him because he acted suspiciously, prosecutors said.
The unmarked car wasn’t equipped with emergency lights and Kinder became frightened and sped up.
Video shows a marked Dodge Magnum with lights and sirens later pulling in behind the unmarked car and chasing Kinder, who at some point turned his headlights off.
The chase started at the Bloomfield Village shopping center on Eisenhower Parkway and ended at the intersection of Columbus Road and Buena Vista Avenue in Macon’s Unionville neighborhood. Kinder crashed into Freeman’s car as Freeman was headed to help with the pursuit.
Kinder’s blood tested positive for marijuana after the crash. He’d been driving without a license, prosecutors said. At times, he was driving 20 to 30 mph above the speed limit.
At Friday’s hearing, Freeman’s widow, Jessica, addressed the court and described what an ordeal the past year has been for her and her family.
“My entire life has felt like it was destroyed,” she said through tears.
She spoke of how her late husband will not be there to walk his daughter down the aisle when she gets married one day. She told of the heartbreak of seeing her 12-year-old son cope with not having a dad around.
“Life is in shambles,” Jessica Freeman said, describing those close to her as “broken people. ... Some days you just can’t get out of bed.”
When it came her turn to address the court, T.J. Freeman’s mother, Vicki Lindsey, asked the judge to give Kinder “the maximum.”
She spoke of family gatherings and how “I feel so alone” without her son, who was killed at age 29.
She asked the judge to sentence Kinder to “29 years and seven months. ... That was how old T.J. was.”
After the hearing, Bibb sheriff’s Lt. Cedric Penson, who was T.J Freeman’s supervisor, said privately, “We are eternally grateful for the legacy and unselfish commitment of T.J. Freeman. The hardest call a supervisor can ever make was met with strength and precious resolve. I remain empowered by his wife and mother to know that his passing while tragic, will represent a symbol of honesty and devotion illuminating to the darkest corners. The Bibb County Sheriff's Office will forever be reminded of the sacrifice that comes with our obligation.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.