By Jill-Marie Gavin of the CUJ
MISSION –Kawlija Scott, a member of the Confederated Tribes, appeared in Tribal Court May 25, a day after he was arrested for allegedly stabbing Gabriel Freeman to death. Freeman, 27, was stabbed May 24 at his residence on Parr Lane on the Umatilla Indian Reservation (UIR), according to a Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) press release. He was transported by Umatilla Tribal Fire Department to St. Anthony Hospital in Pendleton where he was pronounced dead. The homicide case is under investigation by the FBI and Umatilla Tribal Police because both have jurisdiction on this Indian reservation. Scott faces federal charges and if the case goes to trial, it will likely be held in federal court in Portland. Scott was assigned counsel during his first court appearance May 25 in Tribal Court at the Nixyaawii Governance Center. He is being held without bail in the Umatilla County Jail on preliminary charges of criminal homicide. Lead Criminal Investigator for the UTPD, Tony Barnett, said one officer initially responded to the Parr Lane residence at 11:40 a.m. on May 24, two minutes after an emergency call was made directly to Tribal Police dispatch. A resident of Freeman’s home made the call. The initial officer began life saving efforts before Umatilla Tribal Fire Department (UTFD) EMT’s arrived one minute later to take over, Barnett said. Four other UTPD officers responded to the scene also. According to multiple witness accounts, Scott is alleged to have fled the crime scene on foot and was seen walking on Mission Road by responding officers on their way to the scene. Scott was detained and held by UTPD at 11:44 a.m. He was charged with criminal homicide at 4 p.m. and transported to the Umatilla County Jail, Barnett said. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland has yet to indict Scott, though UTPD Chief of Police Timothy Addleman anticipates federal charges and said the Tribe is actively working with the FBI. “To date, no federal charges have been filed. The FBI is, however, assisting Umatilla Tribal Police with their investigation,” said U.S. Attorney’s Office Public Affairs Officer Kevin Sonoff. Family of Freeman hope that he will be remembered as genuine and caring. Longtime family friend, Kendall Rosario, said Freeman was always laughing and constantly eager to help provide for his family and friends. “Gabby was a goof. He was always laughing and smiling. He always wanted to be involved with his mom (Mia Freeman) and sister (Marylin Regalado),” Rosario said. Freeman was a new father to twin daughters. Entering fatherhood, Rosario said, had a huge effect on his outlook on life. “He was a new father to twin babies, who were born about a year ago. It was all new to him, but he really straightened up. He loved those girls and was navigating parenthood without all the tools he needed,” she said. Rosario hopes this community loss will bring awareness to the mental health and substance abuse issues on the UIR. “What happened is the result of mental illness and drug use. It’s apparent that these issues need to be addressed. Don’t let him die in vain. Make a change and give Gabby something to be proud of,” she said. His presence in the community will be missed, Rosario said, especially his random drop-ins that family and friends became accustomed to. “This has impacted a lot of people, to not have him running around,” Rosario said. “Gabby was always helping, he loved hunting and fishing. He always shared whatever he had and always tried to make sure his family was provided for. It’s difficult because this isn’t something you would expect to happen, not to Gabby. We never expected to lose him in this way.” Freeman’s funeral services began May 31 at Burns Mortuary in Pendleton and he was buried at the Athena Cemetery June 1.