As the body of Bibb County sheriff’s investigator TJ Freeman was carried in a law enforcement procession to a funeral home Friday, state troopers were upgrading charges against the Macon man accused in Thursday’s fatal crash that left Freeman dead at the end of a car chase.
Martavius T. Kinder now faces felony murder, vehicular homicide in the first degree and reckless driving charges, the Bibb County District Attorney’s Office said.
Citing the ongoing investigation, D.A. David Cooke declined to comment on whether his office could seek capital punishment in the death of Freeman, who was a SWAT team officer.
Kinder, 24, who suffered minor injuries in the crash that knocked Freeman’s police car into the side of a house, was being held at the Monroe County jail.
After a Friday morning autopsy at the GBI Crime Lab in east Macon, Freeman’s body, which was in a SWAT Bearcat vehicle, was escorted in a motorcade of 18 police cars and trucks.
Officers stood at attention outside the former Macon Police Department in downtown where Freeman launched his career in 2009.
The funeral for the 29-year-old husband and father of two children is 2 p.m. Monday at the Macon Coliseum. Visitation will begin there at 10 a.m.
After the funeral, a procession will lead through downtown on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, out Broadway to 7070 Houston Road and Glen Haven Memorial Gardens, where the deputy will be buried.
It wasn’t clear why Kinder — who has had past brushes with the law, but nothing believed to be serious — might have run from the law officer, or whether he has told investigators why he led them on the chase.
The 3 a.m. pursuit began after a 1997 Toyota Camry that police say Kinder was in was spotted at the Bloomfield Village shopping center on Eisenhower Parkway in west Macon.
The chase then wound into the heart of the city’s Unionville neighborhood. Kinder once lived there on Bailey Avenue, a couple of blocks from where he is accused of crashing into Freeman’s car. The collision happened at the intersection of Columbus Road and Buena Vista Avenue, just west of the old Colonial bakery.
We are sorry for that officer’s family.
Sister of Martavius Kinder
Kinder, who goes by the nickname “Tadpole,” was described by a friend who lives off Millerfield Road in east Macon on Friday as someone who had “never been a troubled kid.”
The friend, Doris Howard, said, “My kids called him Uncle Tadpole.”
She said he’d had a job cleaning bathrooms at an Interstate 475 rest stop.
Howard, 33, wasn’t sure who owns the Toyota that Kinder was said to be driving, which authorities say slammed into the driver’s side of Freeman’s Dodge Magnum.
“I have nothing bad to say about him,” Howard said.
“I have never seen him do anything wrong. It shocked me. ... I know if he could turn back them hands of time, he would. He would have probably stopped. He probably didn’t have any (driver’s) license.”
A woman who called The Telegraph on Friday evening and identified herself only as Kinder’s sister said, “We don’t even want to make a comment other than we are sorry for that officer’s family.”
“As far as for Tadpole,” the woman went on, “Tadpole should have his day in court, because it was not murder.”
Late Friday afternoon in Bibb Magistrate Court, a judge informed Kinder that only a Superior Court judge could set bond in the case. A May 20 commitment hearing was scheduled for Kinder.