Her twin brother’s son had been shot and killed at a small gathering of friends one night two springs ago. So on Friday she stood before a judge and spoke for her slain nephew.
Betty Freeman’s nephew, a house painter and father of three named Jim Jullian “Jimmy Jam” Baldwin, died in the wee hours of April 14, 2018. He was 44.
The boyfriend of a woman at a house party on Berkner Avenue in Macon’s Unionville neighborhood had argued with Baldwin at the get-together and shot him once in the thigh at pointblank range, killing him.
Jurors on Thursday convicted 27-year-old Tirell Darnell Mitchell of murder for gunning down Baldwin.
Friday morning in Bibb County Superior Court, in the moments before Mitchell was sentenced, Freeman delivered a victim impact statement.
With her nephew’s killer seated 20 feet away, Freeman, 70, a former engineering data management specialist at Robins Air Force Base, spoke her mind.
“When you take someone’s life,” she said, “you kill both families to a certain extent.”
Freeman said Baldwin’s father, her twin, had died a year to the day before Jim Baldwin was killed.
“He was just getting over the death of his father,” she said. “They had gotten close.”
Then she boomed.
“I’m just asking first of all that justice — real justice — be served. To the maximum extent that it can be served,” Freeman said. “Because you know and I know, it’s too much crime going on. And it’s too much killing going on. ... We’ve got to learn to stop this killing.”
She wasn’t done.
“And even if justice ain’t served here,” Freeman went on, “it will be served in a higher power, because God is real, and he will vindicate. But I’m asking for this court to vindicate this today. ... Please give Jim justice.”
Before she turned to go back to her seat in the gallery beside Jim Baldwin’s mother, Mildred, Judge Howard Z. Simms told Freeman, “You’d have made a fine judge.”
“Thank you,” she said.
Five minutes later, it was Mitchell’s turn to stand before Simms and learn his fate.
“Life in the penitentiary,” the judge said, “without the possibility of parole.”