(12/07/2006)
By David Hedges, Publisher
Times Record-Roane County Reporter

A Spencer man accused of shooting his neighbor was given the maximum sentence in Roane Circuit Court Monday.

Dreu Ferguson Jr. was sentenced to 15 years by Roane Circuit Judge David Nibert. In a trial last month in Mason County, Ferguson was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the shooting death of 29-year-old William Freas III more than three years ago.

Freas was sitting on his front porch on Beauty Street when Ferguson shot him in the chest. The incident occurred just before noon on June 11, 2003.

Ferguson fled the scene and was arrested the following day outside a truck stop in Indiana.

Ferguson testified in his own defense and admitted to shooting Freas, but said he did not mean to kill him. He said he just wanted to scare Freas, whom he suspected of being involved in a theft from his home.

Defense attorneys Teresa Monk and Drew Patton argued that Ferguson suffered from mental illness that prevented him from forming the intent to kill. The jury could have convicted Ferguson of more serious offenses including 1st or 2nd degree murder, but opted for a lesser charge.

Police said Ferguson fired two shots from a .22 magnum rifle. Freas was killed by a single shot to the chest fired at close range.

Ferguson has been in jail since his arrest more than three years ago.

The victim's stepmother, Yvonne Freas, spoke at the sentencing hearing. She asked that Ferguson receive mental health treatment while he is in jail so that another family would not face a similar tragedy when he is released.

Prosecutor Mark Sergent asked Nibert to give Ferguson the maximum sentence. "It was basically just a senseless crime," Sergent said...

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