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Columbia County complaint: Homicide victim shot while running away

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Columbia County Courthouse stock wiscnews web only Portage

Arrest warrants have been filed in Columbia County Circuit Court for three people charged with first-degree intentional homicide of a man who one allegedly shot while he was running away in rural Columbia County.

Laura Marie Angela Johnson, 38, Jesse Jacob Freiberg, 28, and Ja’Kenya K. Patty, 21, all of Madison, face life imprisonment for their alleged actions in the shooting death of Manuel M. Martinez, of Madison.

Laura M. Johnson


Jesse J. Freiberg


Ja'Kenya K. Patty


According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, Freiberg shot Martinez as he was running away, his hands tied with a phone charging cord, along the east side of Klappstein Road off of State Highway 16 in the town of Lewiston. Martinez, 68, ran away after being let out of his own vehicle and ran into a body of water where he was shot two to three times by Freiberg. The group then returned to Madison.

The vehicle was identified through a tracking system by its VIN as crossing the State Highway 33 bridge into Portage after 3 a.m. June 14.

According to the complaint and affidavits filed in the case, a Madison police officer spoke to Patty after witnessing Patty try to run her boyfriend, Freiberg, over with the vehicle that belonged to Martinez.

Patty told police that the silver 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun Freiberg used to shoot Martinez was in a bag in the vehicle. During an interview with detectives, Patty said she and Freiberg visited Johnson at her apartment in the 300 block of North Brooks Street, where they saw Johnson hitting Martinez with a metal object. Martinez was bleeding.

Patty said Johnson pulled Martinez into a hallway and then to an elevator before taking him to his vehicle.

Johnson was holding Martinez “hostage” while asking for money with a box cutter, Freiberg said to police. He said that he and Patty talked and agreed to help Johnson because they wanted the 2016 Jeep Patriot that Martinez owned.

The group drove to Portage with Martinez in the backseat next to Johnson, who continued to threaten and hit him, Freiberg said. According to the complaint, Freiberg told police that he fired three times; one to ensure the gun worked, then twice at Martinez as he was running away from the group. Johnson and Patty told him to shoot Martinez when he started running, Freiberg said.

An autopsy Thursday showed a bullet went into Martinez’s left thigh and traveled upward, striking his liver before exiting the upper right side of his abdomen.

Johnson told Freiberg and Patty they could have the Jeep and “do whatever they wanted with it,” Freiberg told police.

No court proceedings have been scheduled. A public defender was ordered Monday to represent Freiberg.

Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.


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