Jury finds man fit for trial in 1999 slayings in Oklahoma

The Associated Press - December 19, 2019 2:14 pm

VINITA, OK — A Kansas man suspected in the deaths of an Oklahoma couple and the vanishing and presumed deaths of their teenage daughter and her friend two decades ago has been found competent to stand trial.

A three-man, three-woman jury deliberated for 45 minutes before returning with that verdict Wednesday in a competency hearing for Ronnie Dean Busick.

The Tulsa World reports that Busick showed no emotion as the decision was announced. The defense says Busick is not competent to stand trial because he suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1978.

Busick is slated to come back to court on Feb. 7, when his preliminary hearing date will be set.

Three key experts testified, including a Neruo Psychologist from Texas and two doctors of forensic and psychology.

The defense argues that Busick suffered a traumatic brain injury in 1978 and has trouble focusing, getting a clear story, and rationalizing the case.

Busick is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, first-degree arson and two counts of kidnapping.

The case began in 1999 when investigators discovered the bodies of Danny and Kathy Freeman inside their burning home in Welch.

Authorities soon learned that the couple’s daughter, 16-year-old Ashley Freeman, and her friend, 16-year-old Lauria Bible, were missing.

Although rescue teams searched the area, they never found any sign of the teenagers.

An anonymous caller told investigators that the teens were both killed and their bodies were dumped in a mineshaft southwest of Picher, Oklahoma.

Although authorities say they have searched the area, their bodies have never been found.

 

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