Mary Katherine Higdon of Griffin, Ga. Was arrested for the murder of her boyfriend, Steven Freeman. Was the shooting an accident, or does the forensic evidence suggest that she methodically planned to kill him? CBS News correspondent David Begnaud is investigating for “48 hours” in “The Case Against Mary Katherine Higdon,” which airs Saturday, July 24 at 9 / 8c on CBS.
Late on the evening of August 1, 2018, the Griffin Police Department responded to a frantic 911 call from Mary Katherine Higdon, 24. She told the dispatcher that she had just shot her boyfriend, by accident. During the call, she said she was unaware the gun had a bullet in her room.
When first responders arrived at the couple’s home, paramedics attended to Steven’s potentially fatal injuries, while police spoke with distraught Higdon and secured the scene. Steven Freeman was rushed to hospital, but the 23-year-old died minutes before midnight.
On the chaotic stage, Higdon said the gun accidentally exploded, as she handed it to Freeman. But investigators noticed food strewn on the kitchen floor, leading them to believe there may have been an altercation before the shooting. Police began to suspect that this was more than just an unfortunate accident.
Mary Katherine Higdon was escorted to police headquarters for questioning.
There, she told investigators a different story, claiming the weapon exploded then launch to Freeman. The interview quickly turned into an interrogation, and investigators say Higdon suddenly confessed to the murder, admitting that she angrily shot Freeman.
Believing they had a foolproof confession on tape, detectives arrested Mary Katherine Higdon for the murder of Steven Freeman.
But there was a big problem. There was only feedback on most of the recording. Prosecutors should try to make their case without it.
At his trial in June 2019, prosecution witness Thomas Skinner said Higdon sold firearms at the same sporting goods store where he also worked for a time. “I know she is very good at wielding a gun,” Steven’s friend said in court. Thomas Skinner went on to say that Higdon was raised around guns and bragged about his knowledge of guns to Freeman and his friends.
Mary Katherine Higdon stood up for herself. She tearfully testified that Steven Freeman was the love of her life and that she never meant to hurt him. Higdon insisted the shooting was an accident and she was unaware the gun had a bullet in her chamber and was primed to fire.
The prosecution showed the jury two exhibition photos that revealed close-up details of the weapon used to shoot Freeman. A Griffin police sergeant also testified that the gun looked wet when he examined it, and that there appeared to be cooking grease on the gun as well.
During her interview with CBS News correspondent David Begnaud, prosecutor Kate Lenhard summarized her case to explain how and why she believes Higdon killed Freeman. Lenhard told the jury that Freeman and Higdon’s relationship fell apart and an enraged Mary Katherine shot Freeman when he finally came home after ignoring his texts all day and then refusing to eat the dinner she had prepared for him.
“She took out the magazine from the pistol with the hands that had prepared this food and was angry that he didn’t want to eat it. She put bullets in that magazine. She put the magazine in the pistol. She fired. the top of that gun. She put a round in there and put five and three-quarter pounds of pressure on that trigger. And she pulled the trigger because she was angry. Lenhard told “48 Hours” “That the grease inside the gun was proof that the Steven Freeman shooting was not an accident, but a murder.
In an interview with Begnaud, Griffin Police Detective Adam Trammell used the same type of firearm as Higdon, a Glock 42, to demonstrate how to load the magazine, then remove the slide to chamber a bullet. Detective Trammel’s on-camera demonstration illustrated investigators’ theory of how this grease ended up both on the top of the gun and, more importantly, on the magazine inside the gun. armed.
In his interview with “48 Hours”, defense lawyer Jorge Carabajal challenged the state’s evidence: “They took a nice close-up photo of the gun. I didn’t see this level of grease or whatever on that gun other than maybe – whatever you got on your fingers.… ”
But the trial would be more than grease on a gun. Higdon testified that although she did not know the gun was chambered, she held the gun in the air that night because she was afraid of Freeman. To the surprise of many in the courtroom, Higdon painted a picture of escalating abuse on Freeman’s part. She read several ugly and threatening text messages to the jury that Freeman sent her a year before his death. Higdon also testified that Freeman hit her, and on two occasions, that he raped her.
The prosecution did not believe it. During her cross-examination, Kate Lenhard confronted Higdon for never complaining about Steven’s abuse allegations.
Ultimately, it was up to the jury to decide whether the accused was guilty of any of the charges against her. The verdict: not guilty.
Many members of the tribunal were stunned by the jury’s decision to acquit Mary Katherine Higdon of all charges: malicious murder, felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm while committing a crime. crime.
“48 Hours” spoke to some jurors to find out exactly what happened while they deliberated behind closed doors. Hear what they have to say on “The Case Against Mary Katherine Higdon” airs Saturday, July 24 at 9 / 8c on CBS and Paramount +.