By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Thomas seeks to avoid prison sentence in shooting death
Freddie Alec Thomas

Freddie Alec Thomas appeared in Barton County District Court on Monday to hear his sentence for a voluntary manslaughter conviction in connection with the 2015 shooting death of Jeremy Alan Saldana. However, District Judge Carey Hipp rescheduled the sentencing to 10 a.m. on Sept. 6, giving the State time to respond to a late motion filed by defense attorney Donald Anderson II, who is seeking probation for the defendant.

Based on the level of the crime and Thomas’s criminal history, he would normally be required to serve time in prison under Kansas sentencing guidelines. Anderson is seeking a downward departure from the guidelines.

Barton County Attorney Levi Morris noted that Anderson filed his motion last Friday, failing to give him the usual seven days to do research and file a response.

It is not unusual for the defense to request a downward departure from the standard sentence based on “substantial and compelling reasons” for a lesser sentence. However, Anderson also cited a special rule as a second reason for downward departure. Morris said he needed more time to review that before responding.

Hipp agreed and rescheduled the sentencing. She did, however, rule on two other motions filed by Anderson.

The defense requested a new trial for Thomas and requested a judgment of acquittal that would override the jury’s June 23 guilty verdict. The judge denied both of those motions.

Case began in 2015

It has taken much longer than usual for this case to be resolved.

At approximately 8:40 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, Freddie Thomas fatally shot Jeremy Saldana three times with a Ruger SR9 outside a home in Great Bend. Saldana was unarmed but, according to Thomas, was attacking him. Thomas was arrested at the scene and charged with first-degree murder. He was bound over for trial following his preliminary hearing on April 21, 2016.

Then on June 8, 2016, now-retired District Court Judge Ron Svaty granted Thomas immunity from prosecution based on self-defense and dismissed the State’s complaint.

The State of Kansas filed an appeal. On Dec. 8, 2017, the Kansas Court of Appeals issued an unpublished opinion reversing the grant of immunity. The defendant then filed a petition for review with the Kansas Supreme Court. The petition for review was granted.

In July of 2020, the Kansas Supreme Court agreed with the Court of Appeals and sent the case back for a rehearing. In November of 2020, District Court Judge Hipp denied the defendant’s immunity request and set the matter for jury trial.