One of Lehigh County's most notorious killers will have to wait a while longer to see if he has a shot at freedom.
Bryan Freeman's case is getting a second look following a ruling about what punishment is appropriate for so-called "kid killers."
Freeman's hearing was supposed to happen September 22, but Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin asked for a stay in the Freeman sentencing until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides on the Qua-eed Batts case.
Batts was just 14 years old when he shot another teenager to death and was later convicted as an adult of murder. He was automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole, which the Supreme Court later ruled can't be automatic.
When Batts was re-sentenced, he got the same sentence. His attorneys are appealing, saying Pennsylvania doesn't have proper guidelines to ensure re-sentencing follows U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
The Lehigh County district attorney's office said that will put a hold on six cases now up for re-sentencing, including that of Freeman, who in 1995 was part of what the Lehigh Valley called the skinhead murders.
Bryan was 17 and his brother David was 16 when they and their 18-year-old cousin killed their family in Salisbury Township. Bryan and his brother have spent 21 years in prison.
Bryan said he is not the same person he was back then and is eager to have his re-sentencing hearing.
"The only thing I can do is present all of the things I have done in prison, all of the programs I have taken, all of the positives that I have done," Freeman said. "I have a bunch of people who are willing to come in and speak for me as character witnesses. My family is going to speak for me."
The only case that has broken through the "Batts barrier" is that of Joseph Romeri, who, after spending 37 years in prison for killing an 80-year-old woman when he was a teenager, was able to negotiate a sentence that made him eligible for parole.
The DA said the deal was made because Romeri is a model prisoner.
Freeman's attorney said the DA has not expressed the desire to negotiate a sentence deal with Freeman.
The DA's office would not comment on whether there were, or if he is open to any sentence negotiations.
Freeman's aunt, a devout Jehovah's Witness, said the family has forgiven him and David and would welcome them back home should they every be released from prison.
The family was given the heads up that the hearing would be a no-go, but two of Freeman's supporters were in court.
Martin and Denise Francken said they have 11 years of letters in which Freeman expressed remorse and focused on being an ideal prisoner.
The Pittsburgh couple said they became acquainted with Freeman because of their faith as Jehovah's Witnesses and a mutual friend's prison ministry. The couple cut short their vacation to attend Freeman's re-sentencing.
They said, for a long time, they had no idea what Freeman did, because their conversations were mainly Bible study-related.
"When his parents and brother are resurrected to everlasting life, they will be happy he repented for his sin and will be in paradise with him," said Martin Franken.
Ironically, they also said Freeman and Batts are at the same prison, in the same cell block.
The DA said the Supreme Court will hear the Batts case in December, but it won't be until next year before guidelines are set for re-sentencings to move forward.