Man convicted in killing of acquaintance

Artives Freeman was convicted Tuesday of first-degree murder in connection with the April 2006 slaying of an acquaintance.

Superior Court Judge Albert Diaz sentenced Freeman to life in prison without parole.

The 24-year-old Charlottean was convicted of killing 46-year-old Latahnya Watt Berry, who was shot to death in a house in the Regal Heights neighborhood in west Charlotte.

Freeman's trial was halted in May after he walked into the courtroom dressed in a suit and tie and covered in his own feces. He was sent to Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh for an examination to determine if he was competent to stand trial. A psychologist at the mental hospital concluded Freeman was feigning mental illness.

Diaz declared Freeman competent following a hearing in July. But Freeman acted out while waiting to appear before the judge.

“Despite being placed in restraints, defendant again spread feces over his face and body and affixed toilet paper to his head,” Diaz wrote in his order declaring Freeman competent.

Mecklenburg Assistant District Attorneys Marsha Goodenow and Beth Greene presented evidence during the trial that Freeman killed Berry over a $30 debt for crack cocaine. The prosecutors also had evidence that Berry had been shot in the chest and leg with a handgun.

The jury deliberated about two hours before convicting Freeman.

Defense attorney Eric Bach told the judge that Freeman intended to appeal.