KENTLAND — Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski anticipates all four cases involving the murder of Nicole Brown at a trailer park just north of Kentland to be resolved by Jan. 8.
“I have made plea offers in all the cases,” said Drinski. “This will prevent the family members from having to relive the event all over again during a trial.”
Garett Kirts, the lone suspect to be charged with homicide, appeared in Newton County Superior Court Nov. 22 and will be back in court Jan. 8 for the formal presentation of the plea.
“We have received a plea offer that we are inclined to accept, but I would like to hammer out some of the details still,” said Kirts’ attorney Codey Spear.
The plea offer won’t become public until the court presentation on Jan 8 but family members of Bowen were notified about it.
“I’m not happy with the plea,” said Bowen’s aunt Ginger Prater. “Forty-five years is not enough. For me, he should serve life. I don’t feel he should get lethal injection but he should rot every day in prison.”
Drinski had been seeking life without parole for Kirts based on the aggravating circumstance that he allegedly tortured Bowen while she was still alive.
Also appearing in court on Nov. 22 were Talitha Beckley of Monticello, Christopher Mathis of Kentland, and Ashley Garth of Delphi. They have all been charged with assisting a criminal in the death of Bowen.
Garth has been offered a plea deal for that charge, but Drinski said an elevated charge of homicide could be filed against her depending on the analysis of the DNA results, which he anticipates will be completed before Dec. 18.
Garth and Mathis will be back in court Dec. 18 for pre-trial conferences.
The fifth suspect in the death of Bowen, 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.
Bowen’s body was found in a hunting shack near the Iroquois River northwest of Kentland on March 30.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed against Kirts, police believe the murder occurred in Lot 20 of the trailer court.
After a signed Miranda Warning waiver, Kirts told Newton County Detective Mike Rowe that his current girlfriend Ashley Garth had problems with Bowen. Kirts went on to say that Garth was already at the trailer (lot 20) and he was driving Bowen there so they could hash it out or fight it out.
The probable cause affidavit also stated that as soon as Bowen arrived and entered the trailer, she didn’t feel comfortable but an argument and physical fight occurred. Kirts then told police that he grabbed Bowen from behind and placed his right arm around her neck and applied pressure for several minutes, causing her to collapse and go unconscious. Kirts than stated that he did not want Bowen to wake up, so he tied a scarf around her neck tightly. Kirts also added that a brown extension cord was also tied tightly around her neck and that it was tied so tight that it caused the cord end to break.
Kirts told police that he then placed tape over her mouth, a plastic bag over her head, bound her hands behind her back and feet with tape. He then wrapped her body in a grey blanket and wrapped tape around her body and blanket.
Kirts confirmed to police during the interrogation that he loaded Bowen’s body into the trunk of a vehicle.
Also according to the probable cause affidavit, Kirts informed police that he contacted Chris Mathis to help dispose of the body. Kirts left the trailer and picked up Mathis at his residence in Kentland and drove around the country until they discovered an area containing a shipping container (later described as a hunting shack) and an excavator nearby. Kirts told police that he realized with the excavator on the same road, the road had to be traveled and where he figured Bowen’s body would eventually be found.
Police state that during Kirts’ interrogation, details about the trailer, vehicle, condition, and details of Bowen’s body during recovery and autopsy were consistent with the investigation.