MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeannine Pratt found a Ludlow Falls man guilty of murdering his wife last January during a no contest plea hearing on Thursday.
Randy Freels, 57, appeared in court as family members of his deceased wife, 52-year-old Samantha Freels, sat behind state prosecutors. Freels entered a plea of no contest and the court found him guilty of murder, felonious assault and tampering with evidence. The state plans to dismiss the felony charge of improperly discharging a firearm at sentencing. Judge Pratt accepted the plea of no contest and found Freels guilty of the murder, which occurred on Jan. 12. Freels will be sentenced on July 17. He faces a sentence of 18 years to life as part of a joint recommendation with the state.
Family members became quietly emotional as Miami County Prosecutor Anthony Kendell recounted the facts of the Jan. 12 murder of Samantha Freels.
Prosecutor Kendell said the state had a variety of witnesses plus deputy cruiser dash cam video that placed Freels at the scene. Witnesses said they saw Samantha Freels help Randy Freels into her vehicle after he ran off the road in his truck into an embankment on the snowy road. Later, witnesses found Samantha Freels’ red car off the side of the road in a creek as Randy Freels walked away, hiding the Bursa .380 handgun in the area of the accident. Evidence also included gun residue on Freels’ coat and other evidence.
Public defense attorney Jack Hemm said his client did not object to the state’s facts of the case and Freels proceeded with entering a no contest plea.
Freels was found competent to stand trial earlier this month.
Hemm reviewed a stipulation that the state returns all confiscated evidence not directly related to the case, including multiple guns, to Anthony Freels, the victim’s son and administrator of her estate.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a report of a car off the side of the road during poor road conditions in the area of Elleman Road and West State Route 55 in Union Township on Jan. 12. Units on the scene advised the victim was not breathing. Samantha Freels’ vehicle was located in a creek, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. A deputy noticed a bullet hole in the trunk of the car. Medics at the scene found a bullet wound while attempting to treat Samantha Freels.
Randy Freels was later apprehended by the Special Response Team at his home in the 2000 block of Rangeline Road.
In March, a family member filed a civil lawsuit in Miami County Common Pleas Court against Freels.
Anthony Freels, administrator of the estate of his mother, Samantha Freels, filed the lawsuit, dated Feb. 20, seeking monetary compensation for more than $25,000 in a wrongful death suit in civil court.