LIMA — A Lima man who police and prosecutors say took part in armed robberies more than a year ago at Little Caesar’s pizza and Hermie’s Party Shop has been given one week to ponder a plea deal.
Juan Freeman II has until the close of business on March 5 to accept a negotiated settlement that would land him in prison for 14 years. If he rejects that offer, his case will proceed to trial beginning April 26.
Freeman appeared Friday in Allen County Common Pleas with a new attorney after spending a portion of his 18th birthday on Jan. 4 of this year in the same courtroom. At that time he asked Judge Terri Kohlrieser to appoint new legal counsel to defend him on two felony counts.
Freeman, who is facing two counts of aggravated robbery with firearm specifications, was a juvenile when he is alleged to have robbed the two Lima businesses at gunpoint on Jan. 14, 2020. In January he requested court-appointed attorney William Kluge be removed from the case, telling the judge “I feel like he is not representing me the right way.”
Kluge agreed, telling Kohlrieser, “I believe our relationship is beyond repair.”
Kluge said he told Freeman’s family prior in January about the prosecutor’s proposed plea deal and said at that time that the state has “video evidence and there’s a confession he made, all of which makes the state’s case a very strong one.”
Freeman also faces an additional charge of escape that is expected to be filed in the near future. While awaiting trial as an adult, Freeman escaped from custody of the Allen County Juvenile Detention Center on the evening of Oct. 25 after being transported to the emergency department at Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center. Freeman was not immediately located but was apprehended some six weeks later in Waterloo, Iowa.
Freeman and Na’zier Howard, both of whom were 17 years old at the time of the robberies, were indicted by the July 2020 session of the grand jury with aggravated robbery, first-degree felonies that include firearm specifications, in connection with the pizza and convenience store hold-ups.