Second man arrested in La Crosse County homicide investigation

A 26-year-old man was taken into custody in Arizona on Nov. 25 on an arrest warrant from La Crosse County.
A 26-year-old man was taken into custody in Arizona on Nov. 25 on an arrest warrant from La...
A 26-year-old man was taken into custody in Arizona on Nov. 25 on an arrest warrant from La Crosse County.(WEAU)
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 10:30 AM CST
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - The second man charged in the shooting death of Ernest Knox on Jan. 8 in La Crosse County is in custody.

The La Crosse Police Department said 26-year-old Nelson Brown of Rockford, Ill. was taken into custody on Nov. 25 by U.S. Marshals in Mesa, Ariz. on an arrest warrant issued by Judge Scott Horne.

According to documents filed to the La Crosse County Circuit Court in March, Brown and 36-year-old Karvel Freeman of Madison, Wis. were each charged with 1st-degree intentional homicide and 2nd-degree recklessly endangering safety. Brown is also charged with possession of a firearm as a convicted felon and bail jumping, according to online court records. Freeman was arrested in Tennessee on March 9.

On Jan. 8, a La Crosse Police Department officer was nearby when he heard gunshots on the 700 block of Rose Street on La Crosse’s Lower North Side at 2:27 a.m., according to court documents. When officers came to the scene they found a man who had been shot in the chest and wasn’t moving, Ernest Knox. Knox died less than an hour later at Gundersen Hospital, according to the criminal complaint. An autopsy confirmed the cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the chest. One witness said they believed Knox was shot from three or four feet away.

According to the criminal complaint, police found a driver’s license at the scene belonging to Freeman, and investigators learned he had been shot in the leg. Freeman sought treatment in Madison later on the morning of the shooting. Witnesses reported hearing multiple gunshots and that two people had been shot after an argument during a party in an apartment. A witness said Knox was trying to calm down Freeman before the shooting happened, noticing that Freeman tapped Brown on the hip as what the witness believed to be a signal to shoot. The witness said he “possibly” saw a third gun other than the ones Freeman and Brown were holding through a doorway.

Another witness said that Freeman’s behavior seemed “off” while another said Freeman was “acting crazy” that night. A third witness said that Freeman had a state that ‘intimidated him.’ Multiple witnesses said that Knox was attempting to deescalate the situation, which was in part caused by Freeman knocking over an item in the apartment and refusing to pick it up. Another witness said Freeman was upset over someone at the party telling his wife that another woman was dancing on him.

A police officer saw Freeman and Brown flee with a third person in a black SUV, and also saw three people running from the back of the building on foot.

Knox was 36 years old at the time of his death.

Freeman is scheduled for a multiple-day jury trial in February 2023, according to online court records.