A judge has decided that two Lehigh County brothers convicted of beating their parents to death almost two decades ago will continue to serve their mandatory life sentences.
Lehigh County Judge Doug Reichley agreed to keep in place the sentences of Bryan and David Freeman after a 30-minute hearing Friday afternoon. Neither Freeman brother appeared in court.
Lawyers for the Freemans are challenging the sentences because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling about three months ago. The high court found that mandatory life sentences without parole are unconstitutional for juveniles. The Freemans were juveniles when they were convicted in 1995.
Reichely said it would be "inappropriate" to take action without further guidance from the state Supreme Court and the state legislature.
Neither Bryan Freeman's lawyer, David Ritter, nor David Freeman's lawyer, Charles Banta, had any serious objections to the request that the sentences stay in place, although Banta pointed out that his client "would be in limbo" if his sentence was vacated. "He would be sentenced to what?" Banta asked.
Lehigh County Senior Deputy District Attorney Heather Gallagher said it will be up to the state Supreme Court to decide if the high court's ruling applies retroactively. She added that the state legislature could come up with new sentencing guidelines that meet the new high court standard by allowing the possibility of parole at some point.
The Freemans became national news when their parents, Dennis and Brenda Freeman, and younger brother Erik were found dead on Feb. 27, 1995. Officials said Dennis was bludgeoned to death in his bed with an aluminum baseball bat; Brenda was stabbed several times with a steak knife, and Erik was hit with a pick axe several times while sleeping in his bed.
The brothers confessed to killing their parents, but not their brother.
The Freemans attended Salisbury High School. They were known to embrace neo-Nazi beliefs and even had neo-Nazi tattoos on their foreheads.