Former Mobile County Commissioner Freeman Jockisch is no longer a free man, after a jury found him guilty of attempting to lure a child for unlawful sex in federal court on Thursday.
After a daylong trial, the jury spent close to three hours deliberating the facts and returned to the courtroom with unanimous support for the case made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Maria Murphy.
The charge carries with it a minimum of 10 years in federal prison, and Murphy said the prosecution would be making a sentence recommendation.
“We weren’t asking the jury to look at it in an emotional way, we were asking them to look at the facts,” Murphy said. “I think it was easy to see there were differences in the interview he gave to police and what he said to (Channel 15).”
An interview with Channel 15’s Andrea Ramey was used as evidence in the case to show inconsistencies in the reasons Jockisch gave for why he was visiting a girl he believed to be 15 years old.
When asked if she thought Jockisch was a predator, Murphy said, “Facts speak for themselves.”
Defense attorney Jeff Deen disagreed, and said he and his client plan to appeal the court’s decision.
“Here he is 70 years old and looking at a minimum of 10 years in prison just for screwing around on the computer,” Deen said. “Nobody likes the sexual exploitation of children, but these ads are being placed on a website for adults and for sexual encounters. They’re just baiting people in.”
Deen said the federal program that landed Jockisch behind bars seems like expansion of government power, and he doesn’t see how it’s serving the community.
Murphy said the program, which is funded through federal grants, is designed to protect children and has already saved some children.
“We’ve had people come in and in the interrogation they’ve told us they’re molesting their own children,” she said.
The ruling devastated Freeman’s wife Debra Jockisch, who was called as a witness by the defense.
She said the court wouldn’t allow her family to tell their side of the story, including details pertaining to Jockisch’s physical and mental health.
“He’s got dementia, medical programs, heart problems and dizzy spells. He’s fallen in the river five or six times, and they wouldn’t even let the jury know that,” Debra Jockisch said. “I don’t feel that justice has been done.”
Debra has been married to Jockish for nearly 50 years, and said her vows included for better or worse.
“My question to you is, who knows Freeman better — you, the news media and the people in there, or me?” she asked following the trial. “I know his heart and his soul. He’s my heart. He’s my one true love and I’m his. No matter what I’ll be with him, wherever he is.”
Jockish, who served on the Mobile County Commission for 11 years, was taken to Mobile County Jail and will remain there until his sentencing hearing in July.
Jockisch previously served 33 months in a federal work camp for lying on tax returns and ethics forms, a prior conviction that will be factored into his sentencing calculations.