Metro-East News

He thought he was going to see Sesame Street Live. Instead, he saw a murder.

Witness recalls trying to save life of shooting victim

Cameron Baker talks about trying to save the life of a young man who was shot at an apartment in Collinsville.
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Cameron Baker talks about trying to save the life of a young man who was shot at an apartment in Collinsville.

It was a Saturday afternoon and Cameron Baker was taking his kids to see Sesame Street Live when he heard the gunshot.

Baker and his girlfriend had their 3-year-old and 1-month-old boys in the back seat of the car and were getting gas at a station in Collinsville. The shot echoed from an apartment building.

Baker didn’t hesitate. He said he immediately got in the car and headed across Morrison Avenue to the apartments.

He found Montrea L. Marshall, shot once in the forehead over his left eye.

Baker, a union carpenter who resides in Caseyville, got out of the car and felt for a pulse. It was weak and getting weaker. Baker started CPR. His girlfriend, Taylor LaFrank, got out and sat beside Marshall.

It happened Jan. 21. Baker said he’ll never forget it.

“There was blood all over me,” he said. “I was covered in blood.”

There was blood all over me. I was covered in blood.

Cameron Baker

Marshall’s eyes rolled up, Baker said. He groaned, but could not speak.

“He wanted to, but he couldn’t,” Baker said.

A police officer showed up, Baker said, and took over chest compressions. It wasn’t too long before paramedics showed up, put Marshall in the ambulance and took him to the hospital.

Baker later got word that Marshall had died there.

“For a long time, I felt like I didn’t do enough,” Baker said.

The police gave Baker a phone number for Marshall’s parents. He told them what happened.

“I think it helped them,” Baker said. “They thought he died alone on the sidewalk. I told them, ‘He wasn’t alone.’”

I think it helped them. They thought he died alone on the sidewalk. I told them, ‘He wasn’t alone.’

Cameron Baker

He still sends texts every week to Marshall’s parents, who live in New Jersey.

Baker once worked at the YMCA and took a first aid class at Southwestern Illinois College. That was the extent of Baker’s medical training.

Near where Marshall lay, police found a bag of marijuana, according to court papers.

Neighbors told police that Marshall, formerly of Belleville, moved into the two-story apartment building at 805 South Morrison St. in Collinsville only days before. He had been driving a red Ford Focus with New Jersey plates. Police talked to Marshall’s roommate, who identified Marshall’s iPhone.

The last phone call to Marshall came earlier in the day, at 12:16 p.m. on Jan. 21.

Police learned the call came from a man trying to set up a deal to buy marijuana from Marshall. The call came from a phone number corresponding to a Facebook account, according to an affidavit signed by Roxana Police Detective James Doyle, who was working for the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis. The Facebook account was registered to Kaleb Freeman, 23, of Carbondale.

A girl told police that she and Freeman left Carbondale the morning of Jan. 21. in her 2011 Chevrolet Cruz. The woman told police that he parked the car away from the Collinsville apartment building and went to meet with Marshall alone. Police believe Freeman and Marshall got into an argument that culminated in gunfire.

The search for Freeman took police to 1005 Candletree Lane in Carbondale — more than 90 miles from the Collinsville apartment.

On Jan. 23, U.S. Marshals looked through the front window of the Carbondale address and spotted Freeman, according to a police affidavit. Marshals knocked at the door and saw Freeman and another man run to the back of the apartment. The marshals forced open the front door and found Freeman in a bathroom, trying to flush bags of marijuana down the toilet, the affidavit stated.

The marshals also saw a marijuana cigarette and a bag of suspected marijuana on the table in the living room.

Freeman was previously charged twice in Jackson County with possession of cannabis. In 2014, he was charged with felony possession of cannabis.

That case was dismissed.

“The court believes that it has no choice but to grant the motion (to dismiss) which the court will do, however there has been no effort to move the case by the prosecution and the court was misled on July 15, 2014, when it was reported that the lab results were not returned, when in fact the evidence had not been sent to the crime lab. This case should be dismissed ... ” wrote Jackson County Circuit Judge William G. Schwartz.

Freeman is scheduled to go to trial in Madison County on the Collinsville murder charge on March 6. His attorney, Cheryl Whitley, declined comment.

Baker thinks about Marshall a lot. He didn’t get to see Sesame Street Live that day because police needed him to give a witness statement. But his girlfriend, LaFrank, washed the blood off her hands with a baby wipe and took the rest of the family to the show as planned.

“It’s what you do as a parent,” Baker said.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer