Negotiation can lead to results that are just

Brian Daniel Freeman, 30, of Ceylon agreed this week to a plea bargain that will result in him serving a minimum of 33 years in prison. This is for the slaying of Christopher Fulmer, 37, of Blue Earth, last February. Freeman also attacked his wife and her two daughters; all of the attacks were done with a hammer.

Freeman had faced the possibility of never getting out of prison. The deal means he could get out when he is in his 60s. Some will not see justice in his possible release. But it’s also conceivable a jury would have accepted a “heat of passion” defense, meaning Freeman would have served 15 to 20 years.

So, as they do in many criminal cases, the two sides negotiated a resolution, one that was acceptable to the victims and to their families.

We suppose critics could argue that in such a serious case, a defendant should go before a jury and receive the full measure of the law. We suspect they are thinking Freeman would have been easily convicted of first-degree murder, and never seen the light of day again. But prosecutors cannot ignore an overall good achieved in a plea deal. It metes out punishment to Freeman, protects citizens from him and satisfies those who investigated the crime. It also saves time and money that can be devoted to furthering justice in other ways.

Those who disagree can certainly take it out on the Faribault County Attorney in the next election. But we believe citizens informed about the system will fully back him.