Trial begins for alleged killer of woman

The notion that Carolyn Barr was killed in a robbery attempt was aired again during the opening day of the alleged shooter’s trial Monday. Testimony showed known drug activity and high stakes poker games took place in the Brandon Avenue house Barr was shot in front of two years ago.

Knowledge Dante Frierson faces serious charges including homicide, aggravated assault and robbery for allegedly killing Barr outside of her nephew’s home at 421 Brandon Ave. on Oct. 13, 2015. Barr was the record seventh homicide victim in the city that year.

Keith Freeman Jr. and Karina Washington were living in the home with four children at the time.

Freeman was alone with the kids when, sometime around 8:30 p.m., a man came to the door acting suspiciously.

Freeman’s oldest son, 12 at the time, told him that someone he didn’t recognize was on the porch.

“He said he didn’t know who it was,” Freeman said during testimony. “It wasn’t one of my friends so he didn’t open the door.”

Freeman asked what the man wanted.

“He asked for someone I didn’t know,” he said. “And I told him he had the wrong place.”

Freeman identified the man he saw that night as Frierson.

He said he remembered him acting suspiciously — avoiding eye contact and fumbling in his hoodie pocket. It was enough to make Freeman go upstairs to get a gun, he said.

“I was worried … about a home invasion,” Freeman said. “We had high stakes poker games in there.”

He also sold marijuana, but denied Monday that he kept it in the home.

When asked who knew about the poker games, Freeman said “everybody … a lot of people knew about them.”

When Frierson allegedly came up to the door a second time he was more aggressive.

Even more alarmed, Freeman called Barr, his aunt, asking her to pick Washington up from work a few blocks away.

Freeman said he didn’t want to leave the kids home alone.

He also called a friend who brought another gun.

When Barr arrived with Washington, the suspicious man still was outside in the area of Cherry Street, Washington said.

“He (Freeman) wanted Carolyn (Barr) to leave right away,” she said. “But she came inside.”

Freeman began to walk Barr out to her car, he said he remembered hearing her shout his name while Frierson lunged at him.

“By the time I looked, we were face to face,” Freeman said.

The two fought in the grass. Freeman said Frierson’s gun went off during the “tussle.” He also said Frierson shot a second time while getting off the ground.

“I pulled out mine (gun) and we started shooting,” he said.

As the two men walked away facing each other, they exchanged shots.

Multiple residents in the area testified Monday to hearing one to three shots, a pause and then a string of more gunfire.

Frierson was hit in the abdomen and found in an alley down the street, a responding officer testified.

Freeman said he fired three or four times and that Frierson fired five or six.

But it wasn’t until the third interview with police days after the shooting that Freeman admitted to having a gun that night.

During his first interview with police on Oct. 14, 2015, Freeman denied having a gun, but said he saw a group of people near Cherry Street shooting at him.

During the third interview, he admitted to being in possession of a revolver.

“People were saying he (Frierson) might not make it,” Freeman said, explaining his multiple statements to police. “I heard he was life flighted.” Freeman said he was worried about facing serious charges if Frierson had died.

Freeman didn’t come back home that night. He found out his aunt had been hit by one of the bullets over the phone.

Barr was “barely conscious” when city police patrolman Eric Houseknecht first arrived on the scene. “It was quite clear her condition was dire,” he said.

After getting to the scene, Patrolman Jordan Stoltzfus followed a man’s calls for help.

He found Frierson lying on the ground holding a gunshot wound, he said.

He briefly questioned Frierson, who told him he was walking toward the hospital to meet his girlfriend who just had a baby when he was shot.

The trial continues today in Lycoming County Court.