Police: 330-pound man beat 112-pound Aurora teen to death in May

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AURORA | In the months before he was found beaten to death, Andres Antonio Hernandez lived in utter fear of his roommate’s sometimes-boyfriend.

Part of the fear stemmed from the whopping size difference between the two — Hernandez, 19, and still wearing braces to fix dental problems caused by a cleft pallet, stood just 4-feet 9-inches tall and weighed 112 pounds.

Dustin Dwight Freeman, meanwhile, was a hulking 39-year-old who stands 6-feet 4-inches tall and weighs about 330 pounds, according to his driver’s license.

In March, investigators say Freeman kicked in Hernandez’s door. And on at least eight separate occasions before his death in May, Hernandez and his roommate called police or apartment security to report Freeman’s threats.

Friends said Freeman terrorized the teen, police testified Friday during a preliminary hearing in Arapahoe County District Court.

“They were both terrified of him,” Aurora police Detective Chad Lampson said Friday.

On May 16, police say the stream of harassment and threats took a violent turn when Freeman attacked Hernandez, cracking a rib, breaking his nose and leaving the diminutive teen to die in his west Aurora apartment.

Arapahoe County coroner Kelly Lear-Kaul told the court Friday that Hernandez died from blunt force trauma to his head and neck. The teen had so many bruises and abrasions all over his head, neck and trunk it was impossible to count just how many blows there were, she said.

A judge ruled after the day-long hearing that Freeman should stand trial on a first-degree murder charge stemming from Hernandez’s slaying. Freeman was returned to the Arapahoe County jail.

Police said Freeman admitted to the slaying on a few occasions after Hernandez’s body was found inside his apartment near East Alameda Avenue and South Peoria Street.

Aurora police Detective Alton Reed, the lead detective in the case, said some of Freeman’s friends told police he asked them to hide his car because he had “beat the hell out of” someone and was likely facing a manslaughter charge.

After his arrest, Freeman told police he was only in “a fight” with Hernandez and wept when police told him the teen was dead. He then asked for a lawyer.

Freeman’s defense team focused much of their argument Friday on the fact that prosecutors have been slow to turn over some evidence in the case, including video of a witness interview conducted just this week. Public defender James O’Connor said in court Friday he planned to file a written motion in the coming days asking the judge to reconsider his ruling.

Freeman, who is being held without bond, is set for arraignment in October.

Throughout the hearing, Freeman sat quietly next to his defense team. Wearing a bright orange jail jumpsuit with his hands and feet shackled. He looked down when police played the tape of his initial interview with detectives.

According to testimony, Hernandez met his roommate at a bus stop and allowed her to sublease his one-bedroom apartment, but the living arrangement was tumultuous.

The roommate brought Freeman to the home and he and Hernandez didn’t get along. Eventually, Hernandez told Freeman he wasn’t allowed at the apartment, Reed testified.

Throughout March and April, Hernandez called the police or his apartment’s security guards several times, often because he said Freeman was harassing him and other times because he wanted his roommate or others out of his home.

Reed said that, on some of the occasions, Hernandez called police back and told them not to come by, and in others officers told him eviction issues were a civil matter, not a criminal one.

While Hernandez called apartment security regularly about Freeman, police testified that the security guards only saw Freeman once. Every other time they responded he had already left the area. After some of the calls the security guards called the police, but it wasn’t clear from testimony if police ever contacted Freeman.

Freeman was never arrested or charged with a crime against Hernandez before the teen’s death.

Hernandez also never sought a restraining order, though he may have been planning to before he was killed. Police found a handwritten to-do list on a nightstand next to Hernandez’s bed that listed four items. The first item was about talking to his property manager about the door Freeman broke. Another mentioned having someone served in court and checking to see if the court would waive a filing fee.

Police testified that investigators found several syringes around Hernandez’s home and said his roommate testified that she regularly injected methamphetamine there.

But it didn’t appear from testimony that Hernandez was a drug user. Lear-Kaul testified that a toxicology exam on Hernandez’s body showed no signs of drug or alcohol use.

According to state records, Freeman had been arrested just once before in Colorado. That arrest came in December when Aurora police charged Freeman with auto theft. Charges in that case are still pending.