Ashley Garth walk

(NCE PHOTO/GREGORY MYERS)

Ashley Garth is shown Dec. 18 being escorted to the Newton County Superior Court.

KENTLAND – One of the two individuals who have been charged with homicide for the Nov. 18, 2019 death of Nicole Bowen, whose body was found in a hunting shack in the area of CR 1275 S east of CR 600 W northwest of Kentland on March 30, 2019, is out on bail.

Ashley Garth of Delphi was released from Newton County Jail Thursday, May 7 after a $50,000 surety bond was made by a bail bondsman.

Garth was arrested April 6, 2019, on an original charge of assisting a criminal related to the death of Bowen. However, that charge was dismissed Nov. 18, 2019, and three new felony counts were filed against her including murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Garth faces 45 to 65 years for the count of murder and 20 to 40 years for conspiracy.

The new charges stem from “DNA results that directly tie her to the strangulation of Nicole Bowen,” said Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski.

Drinksi said he could not comment of the evidence that led to the conspiracy charge, but according to the probable cause affidavit, Garrett Kirts, who up until Dec. 18 was the only one of the five suspects in the case to be charged with homicide, had told officers that Garth was heavily involved in the killing of Bowen.

The probable cause affidavit states that on April 4, 2019, an interview was conducted with co-defendant Garett Kirts at the Newton County Sheriff’s Office. Kirts under the advisement of Miranda Warnings was asked if he had done this by himself (referring to the killing of Bowen) and he replied no. Kirts told police that Ashley (Garth) helped him with the extension cord, she initiated the fight, and she had her arm around Nicole’s throat for a minute until he could get his arm around Nicole’s neck. He additionally stated Ashley handed him the extension cord and handed him the scarf but he tied it around Nicole’s neck. Kirts also said that Ashley helped him tape Nicole’s body up and that she tied a knot in the extension cord that she unplugged from the TV and wall. Before she handed it to him she said: “I know you are going to need this.”

The probable cause affidavit also details two separate interviews with Garth on April 3 and 4.

On April 3, 2019, at approximately 1:15 pm an interview was conducted with the Garth at the Lafayette, IN Police Department. After receiving a Miranda Warnings waiver, Garth said she was with Kirts in a relationship, and Nicole was a rival and enemy because she was the other woman in his life.

The affidavit goes on to state that an altercation/fight occurred between Garth and Bowen inside the trailer at lot 20 over that relationship with Kirts.

On April 4, 2019, an interview was conducted with Garth at the Newton County Sheriffs Office and Ashley was asked what caused her to fight with Bowen and Garth replied “Nicole was (sleeping with) her boyfriend Garrett.

According to the affidavit, during the course of the investigation evidentiary items were collected and transferred to the Indiana State Lab for DNA analysis. Of those items, one consisted of nail scrapings of the victim (Nicole Bowen) of both her right and left hand.

On Dec. 16, 2019, the Certificate of Analysis from the Indiana State Police Laboratory was received and the analysis provides strong support for the proposition that Garth is a contributor to the DNA profile of the fingernail scrapings from the victim’s left and right hands. The analysis also provides support for the proposition that Garth is a contributor to the DNA profile on the scarf collected from around Bowen’s neck and tape cardboard tube also collected from around Bowen’s neck.

Kirts remains in the Newton County Jail and is being held without bond at this time.

Talitha Beckley of Monticello and Christopher Mathis of Kentland have both been charged with assisting a criminal, while Jasmine N. Parker of Kentland, was sentenced to five years in prison by Newton County Superior Court Judge Daniel Molter on Oct. 7 after she pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal.