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‘A 9 on the bizarre scale’

/ Source: The Associated Press

Investigators believe a woman lied to police when she told them her husband was killed in a confrontation after he found her lover living in a closet in their home.

Martha Freeman, 41, and Rafael DeJesus Rocha-Perez, 36, are scheduled to go to trial in May for the first-degree murder of Freeman's husband, Jeffrey.

The wife told police Rocha-Perez had been living in a closet in the guest bedroom for a month before her husband heard him snoring and went to investigate. Police reports and autopsy results have since raised questions about her story.

"It did not appear that anybody had spent a long period of time in the closet, if any time at all," detective Brad Corcoran said.

Motive for story unclear
Corcoran would not say why Martha Freeman would make up this story, but he said it was one of the weirdest murder cases he has seen: "1 to 10, this is a 9 on the bizarre scale, and maybe closer than that."

Martha Freeman had told authorities that her husband ordered her to get her lover out of the house while he went for a walk. She said that when her husband returned, Rocha-Perez confronted him with a shotgun, forced him into a bathroom and bludgeoned him.

But the woman's testimony at a preliminary hearing revealed that police weren't called to the upscale Nashville home until 17 hours after she said she heard Rocha-Perez attacking her husband. During that time, Martha Freeman said, she took the dog for two walks and went to a pharmacy to fill a prescription.

Body moved, wrists apparently bound
Authorities also determined that Jeffrey Freeman's body, found in the master bathroom of the Nashville home, had been moved from one bathroom to another. The autopsy report indicated he died from strangulation, though his head and face was badly beaten, and the medical examiner found marks showing his wrists had been bound.

Both defendants pleaded not guilty. Rocha-Perez's lawyer said the case against his client centers on the unreliable testimony of Martha Freeman, and he said he would request separate trials.

"He has always maintained his innocence, and no disrespect to Mrs. Freeman, but her credibility, her reliability, her mental stability will seriously be in question at a trial of this case," said attorney Peter Strianse.

Martha Freeman is free on $75,000 bond. Rocha-Perez, who authorities say is in the country illegally, is being held in lieu of a $500,000 bail.