On Oct. 1, a jury at the La Paz County Superior Courthouse in Parker, Ariz., found 26-year-old father Aaron Roman Freeman guilty of murder in the first degree of 3-year-old daughter Autumn Shibley.
As previously reported by the Times, the case stems from Freeman’s arrest in 2017 following a La Paz County Sheriff’s Department-led investigation and submitted evidence which included surveillance footage showing physical child abuse actions committed against Shibley at a tire shop in neighboring Ehrenberg, Ariz., on June 10, 2017.
Shibley – who was living with Freeman in Blythe, Calif., at the time – was later admitted to Palo Verde Hospital (PVH), then subsequently transported by ambulance to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital in Loma Linda, Calif., where, on the morning of June 11, 2017, she was pronounced deceased.
As delineated and read by the court clerk, the jury's unanimous verdict found Freeman to be guilty of the following counts related to the death of Shibley:
• First-degree murder;
• Second-degree murder, a dangerous crime against children (DCAC);
• Child abuse (three counts);
• Aggravated assault;
• And two counts of aggravated assault upon a minor.
Additionally, the jury unanimously found the following three charged aggravating circumstances related to the case to be true:
• The victim's immediate family suffered emotional harm, proven;
• The victim was a minor child, proven;
• And the victim was the defendant's daughter, proven.
Freeman was found not guilty on one charged count of child abuse and one charged count of aggravated assault.
The case was prosecuted by La Paz County District Attorney Tony Rogers’ Deputy District Attorney Rachel Shackelford.
“I just want to thank the detectives and the DA (La Paz County District Attorney) for doing their jobs. And the jurors,” said Shibley’s mother Ashly Parrish to the Times, who was in court throughout the trial’s duration. “It was pretty crazy that Aaron did not show any emotions. I’m just glad Autumn got her justice. And I’m glad that Aaron’s going away for a long time – he should have got the death penalty, but I’d be OK with life.”
The court scheduled Freeman’s sentencing hearing to be held on Nov. 26.
(Editor's Note: Due to deadline constraints, the trial’s full story will be published in the Times' forthcoming Oct. 9 issue.)