By Kathy Jefcoats
JONESBORO — The February 2011 shooting death of Angel Hope Freeman was an accident, said the attorney defending the teenager accused of killing her.
Attorney Scott Dawkins said Freeman was the “love” of Kevin Kosturi’s life and he would never intentionally have caused her pain. Kosturi, 17, faces life in prison if convicted of murder in the case. Both sides rested their cases Thursday.
“She was his girlfriend, his best friend, the love of his life,” said Dawkins. “There is no evidence intention existed. This is about an accident. There was no criminal scheme or undertaking on the part of Kevin Kosturi.”
Friends of the couple testified earlier that the two argued and Kosturi threatened more than once to kill her if she broke up with him. But Dawkins said during his closing statement that that testimony is untrue.
“The state alleges jealousy and rage but this is not about a lovers’ quarrel,” he said. “The witnesses never heard Kevin Kosturi threaten Angel to her face.”
Dawkins told jurors that the couple exchanged loving texts in the three days leading up to the shooting. He even described Kosturi, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, and Freeman, 16, as being “briefly engaged.”
“And she was happy about it,” said Dawkins.
Prosecutors allege that Kosturi was furious with Freeman and borrowed a gun from a neighbor to kill her. Prosecutors said the two went to a makeshift shack in the woods in Ellenwood and Kosturi fired the weapon at her chest, killing her almost instantly.
However, Dawkins pointed to the 911 call as proof the shooting was an accident.
“Clearly, Kevin Kosturi was hysterical, trying to save Angel,” he said. “He was crying and screaming. He was begging and yelling for her to wake up, to please breathe. He was in utter despair, shock and trauma.”
Police said Kosturi first told them a Hispanic male fired at Freeman from the woods. Kosturi allegedly later confessed and led police to a retention pond where he’d thrown the weapon.
Kosturi sat quietly with his head down Wednesday and later seemed to be taking notes during the testimony of the medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Freeman. Dr. Lora Darrisaw, deputy chief medical examiner for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, testified that Freeman died from a single gunshot to her chest fired about a foot away.
Darrisaw identified several photos taken of Freeman’s body after it arrived at the Crime Lab. The 16-year-old was wearing brown boots, blue jeans and a white tank top stained in blood. Her hair was pulled up into a ponytail. Freeman’s relatives and friends remained mostly composed during the showing of the photos. Kosturi didn’t appear to look at them.
Darrisaw testified that Freeman was shot an inch and a quarter to the left of the midline of her body, just under the left side of her neck. The bullet exited out her back, about 2 and a half inches to the left of her midline, said Darrisaw. The wound had stippling and abrasions around it, indicating to Darrisaw the bullet was fired less than a foot from Freeman’s chest.
When Clayton County Assistant District Attorney Michael Thurston asked Darrisaw if the trajectory was consistent with Freeman being on her knees and being fired upon from someone standing over her, Kosturi appeared to be upset and began scribbling notes.
Kosturi was a month from his 16th birthday when he was arrested for Freeman’s death. He is being tried as an adult.
Police also arrested Kosturi’s neighbor, Robert Allen Bethune, 23, for allegedly giving the teenager the handgun used to kill Freeman. Bethune is charged with theft by taking, furnishing a weapon to a person under 18 and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Kosturi allegedly asked Bethune for a weapon to protect himself from another teenager.
Kosturi and Freeman apparently argued and when he pulled out the gun, Freeman reportedly told him, “You won’t shoot me,” said police.