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Not guilty plea for man charged with murder, rape in 80-year-old woman's death at Indianapolis health care center

An employee at Homestead Healthcare Center said they saw Dwayne Freeman holding a pillow on Patricia Newnum's face on Feb. 2.

INDIANAPOLIS — A man is facing felony charges of rape and murder in the death of an 80-year-old woman at an Indianapolis health care center last week.

Prosecutors charged 60-year-old Dwayne Freeman with two counts of murder and two counts of rape in the death of Patricia Newnum. 

Freeman was silent as jail deputies walked him to court Wednesday morning. He also remained silent in the courtroom, except for answering questions from the judge. 

The judge entered an automatic not guilty plea for Freeman. The judge also asked Freeman if he had a job. Freeman said he didn’t, so the judge appointed a public defender to represent him. 

Newnum died Feb. 2 at the Homestead Healthcare Center, a "skilled care and rehabilitation center" on Madison Avenue on the south side.

Police were called to the facility around 5:30 a.m. and officers determined Newnum's death to be suspicious. The coroner's office later determined she died by asphyxiation by smothering.

According to court documents, an employee entered Newnum's room to give her medication when she saw Freeman, another resident of the facility, lying on top of the victim, holding a pillow over her face and appearing to be having sex with her.

Employees reportedly found Freeman in his room, where they also found an empty bottle of alcohol and could smell alcohol on Freeman's breath.

RELATED: IMPD: Resident arrested in killing of woman at south side health care center

Freeman told police he had been in Newnum's room, but that "she was already dead" when he was there. He told investigators he passed by the victim's room and went in because he heard her asking for help, but denied having been on top of Newnum.

Eventually, court documents say Freeman finally admitted to having sex with Newnum, but said it was consensual and denied putting a pillow on her. He was later arrested and taken to the hospital for a sexual assault suspect exam.

Freeman’s next court appearance is scheduled for March 30.


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