Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Allentown Massacres

More Developments

Joe Vazquez continued to question everyone he could find who had known the defendants. He heard a number of stories about how much they'd hated their parents. He also met with Todd Reiss, who had been in Lehigh County Prison with Ben and who offered the information that Ben had said that he'd helped Bryan to kill Brenda. Ben had also allegedly admitted that the murders had been planned. And now his description of the crime had changed: in this version, he'd allegedly distracted Brenda so that Bryan could attack her from behind. He said that Dennis and Erik had been killed first (as the coroner had believed), and that Brenda had been the most difficult to kill. But Ben had added that he'd been scared of Bryan. Steinberg was not sure what to do with this statement, but he thought it might help at some point.

David's juvenile certificate hearing took place on September 5, but he and his attorneys decided to withdraw it. In the end, the attorneys decided that his chances of being transferred were slim, and the downside was that they'd have to lay out their case. That meant that Steinberg would know their strategy, and if it went to trial in an adult court, they could be at a disadvantage. They decided against taking the gamble.  Similarly, Bryan's attorneys withdrew his juvenile certificate. But all four attorneys still believed they had a chance to reinstate the original plea deal.

On Nov. 14, they argued in court that Steinberg had reneged on his agreement. All the parties involved with the initial statements the boys made in Michigan told of their involvement. Judge Brenner urged Steinberg to make a deal, but he resisted. He thought he had a good case, and politically, it was better for him to take it all the way. But Michigan-based skinhead Frank Hesse was there to testify that David had been drunk and high on marijuana prior to his arrest and confession. That placed his competency into doubt. The judge took all of this into consideration and said that he would give his ruling at a later date. No one knew what to expect.

Bryan Freeman in custody
Bryan Freeman in custody

Then on Dec 7, Bryan surprised everyone by ending the proceedings: He admitted in court that he had murdered his mother. He received a life sentence and would not have to testify against his brother or cousin. David notified his lawyers that he wanted the same deal, and a week later, despite their cautions against it, he was in court for the same reason. He admitted that he had killed his father but said he did not know why. Both of brothers just wished to get it over with and had decided to sidestep the death penalty issue. Makoul said that these deals would not affect his client's case.

Then it came out that David's attorneys had not received the statement made by Todd Reiss in which he'd said that Ben had told him that David had not been the killer of Dennis Freeman. As shaky as the statement's credibility was, with its inconsistencies, it still left room for doubt in David's case. The attorneys were furious at this neglect. Had they known about it, they would have prevented David from taking the deal. They wanted to bring this to someone's attention, but Benny's trial was already in process. Who knew, given all these surprises, what it might reveal? Besides, getting David's care re-opened also renewed the possibility of a trial with more serious consequences.

 

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