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North Richland Hills man pleads guilty to killing wife

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS -- A retired ironworker who told a 911 dispatcher last year that he had shot his wife because she had ridiculed him all of his life is scheduled to be sentenced next Monday in Fort Worth for murder. In the 911 call, after the dispatcher asked him whether his wife was still alive, Freddie Willhite can be heard yelling “Are you alive or are you dead?”

The 68-year-old North Richland Hills man plead guilty to murder on Wednesday afternoon in Criminal District Court No. 4 in Fort Worth.

Willhite will be back in the same courtroom for sentencing next week. He faces a maximum of life in prison.

The shooting

By 6 p.m. on March 19, 2007, Freddie Willhite was drunk again, neighbors said.

On several occasions when he was drunk, Donna Willhite, 66, would sit him down in their mobile home, calm him and then go next door to a second mobile home the couple owned, neighbors have said.

It didn’t happen that way at 7:30 p.m. that night in the 8400 block of Gifford Lane near the Keller-North Richland Hills line.

Freddie Willhite called the dispatcher and said he had shot his wife.

What police found

Freddie Willhite told the dispatcher that he would surrender peacefully when officers arrived.

When officers arrived, he walked out of his mobile home with his hands in the air.

After he was taken into custody, officers found Donna Willhite in the mobile home.

Donna Willhite

She didn’t drink, spent Saturday nights curling her hair for church on Sundays and watched her grandchildren during the week, neighbors have said.

Donna Willhite believed in marriage and love, neighbors have said. Divorce was not an option, they said. She believed that second mobile home was the solution.

Freddie Willhite

According to Tarrant County criminal court records, Freddie Willhite has convictions for possession of marijuana, theft over $200 and driving while intoxicated dating to 1978.

In July 2004, he was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, although the identity of the victim was not available.

North Richland Hills police have said they had repeatedly responded to calls at the Willhite home for the past 25 years.

A neighbor has said that she had seen Freddie Willhite sit on top of his mobile home and howl at the moon, and ride around in the neighborhood on his riding mower with a whip.