Lizella man gets 4 years in prison for friend’s death

A Lizella man was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for the 2008 death of a man who was killed in a crash on Interstate 475.

Tod Chandler Freeman II, 30, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in Bibb County Superior Court. He must also serve 11 years on probation and is prohibited from driving during his first year of probation.

Freeman was driving a Jeep and trying to pass several other vehicles Dec. 26, 2008, when he struck the rear of a southbound tractor-trailer. Prosecutor John Regan said witnesses described Freeman’s driving as “erratic.”

The Jeep struck a guardrail and overturned, ejecting 34-year-old Jason Dwayne Lineberger from the vehicle. Lineberger died at the crash site.

Freeman and Lineberger had left a friend’s house, and Freeman was driving Lineberger home at the time of the crash.

Freeman was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol. His blood-alcohol content was measured at 0.194, above the legal limit of 0.08, Regan said.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was not injured, according to the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office.

Describing the pain of losing her son, Lineberger’s mother asked the judge to sentence Freeman to 15 years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed by law.

Teresa Thomas said she last saw Lineberger on Dec. 22, 2008, while the family was celebrating Christmas at her home in Florida. She recalled getting a phone call notifying her of Lineberger’s death, then driving to Georgia to deal with the aftermath.

“Words do not describe the pain we feel,” she said.

Lineberger also is survived by a brother and two sons.

The prosecution and defense presented Judge Martha Christian with a joint recommendation that Freeman be sentenced from three to six years in prison.

Freeman’s friends and family pleaded with the judge for leniency, describing the special bond that Freeman and Lineberger shared as best friends for 18 years.

Freeman apologized to his family and to Lineberger’s family.

“Jason was like a brother to me and a best friend,” he said. “I wish I could take it all back.

“I would take Jason’s place if I could.”

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.