Des Moines Man Pleads Guilty in 2019 Killing of Marshal Johnson


DES MOINES, Iowa — A Des Moines man accused in a grisly murder outside a homeless camp near the former Dico site has admitted his role in the killing.

On Friday, 47-year-old Yancy Freland pleaded guilty to attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, conspiracy and abuse of a corpse. Freland had initially been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 23-year-old Marshal Johnson in 2019.

In an affidavit attached to the plea, Freland admits to plotting to kill Johnson alongside another man charged in the case, Bryan Norris, and a third man who has not been charged. All of the men were living at the homeless camp. Freland says Norris shot Johnson in the head with a pistol. Freland admits to shooting at Johnson again with a shotgun but believes he missed. Freland claims Norris cut the victim’s throat and tried to burn his body to hide the evidence.

Norris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder in the killing. His trial is set for May 24.

Freland will likely testify against Norris as part of the plea deal. Freland faces 60 years in prison for his role.

A sentencing date hasn’t been scheduled.

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