Owsley estate under scrutiny

An attorney representing the sister of shooting victim Cary Owsley is asking that his widow be removed as personal representative of his estate.

Cheryl Jackson wants Bartholomew Circuit Court to remove Lisa Owsley as the estate’s personal representative and appoint Jackson as special administrator, according to a verified petition filed in Bartholomew Circuit Court this week.

The Jackson petition states that Lisa Owsley has a conflict of interest and is unsuitable or incapable of discharging her duties as personal representative of Cary Owsley’s estate.

Jackson asks to be appointed as personal representative for her late brother’s estate, or that the court order the estate to transfer all authority to matters about the estate to Cary Owsley’s son, Andre Logan Owsley.

Jackson’s attorney, Trent McCain, explained that if the court doesn’t appoint Jackson in place of Lisa Owsley, he and Jackson are asking that Lisa Owsley abandon any opportunity to file lawsuits or claims on behalf of the estate seeking damages, and instead give that right to Andre Logan Owsley.

The verified petition says that Cary Owsley’s son, his mother Rosemary Pennybaker and Jackson are contemplating a federal civil rights lawsuit against several Bartholomew County officials who were involved in the death investigation.

The petition also states the family is contemplating an action against Lisa Owsley pending the results of whether the FBI decides to open an investigation into Cary Owsley’s death.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers turned over all files in the Cary Owsley investigation to the Indianapolis FBI office March 6 in an effort to bring closure for the shooting victim’s family, the community and the sheriff’s department. The FBI declined to say whether it would open an investigation, saying the agency does not comment on pending cases.

Mark McNeely, Lisa Owsley’s attorney, asked whether Jackson and other family members are seeking justice or money.

In legal documents responding to the Jackson petition, McNeely wrote that Jackson filed a petition to be the estate’s personal representative on March 13, 2014, which was denied.

Lisa Owsley, as the widow of Cary Owsley, is the proper person to be personal representative as she opened the estate for her late husband for the sole purpose of handling his affairs and distributing what personal property he owned, McNeely said.

In the petition, McNeely writes that Lisa Owsley has not used her appointment as personal representative to thwart requests for information and investigation by other family members.

In seeking to have Lisa Owsley removed, Jackson says the widow was the only other person in the house when Cary Owsley died of a gunshot wound to the chest April 7, 2013.

Jackson says in the petition that Lisa Owsley was formerly married to a figure in the Cary Owsley death investigation, former Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Deputy E. DeWayne Janes Sr.

Janes was disciplined by then-Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett after it was learned that Janes walked through the Owsley death scene investigation, helped place Owsley’s body on a gurney and handled the weapon suspected of being used in the shooting death.

In previous interviews and court documents, Jackson has contended that her brother would never have killed himself. She contends the Bartholomew County Coroner Larry Fisher impeded the investigation by failing to order an autopsy and ruling Cary Owsley’s death a suicide. She also contends the sheriff’s department lost or mishandled evidence in the case.

The two-year statute of limitations on the estate expires April 7, necessitating an expedited hearing on the change of personal representative, according to the petition.

McNeely’s response states Jackson rarely had contact with her brother during his lifetime. The response also states that there is no relevance that Lisa Owsley was home when Cary Owsley died or that she was previously married to Janes and shares children with him.

According to the Lisa Owsley response, Jackson has exaggerated and twisted the events of Cary Owsley’s death while defaming Lisa Owsley through the media.

McNeely is asking the court to rule that Lisa Owsley remain as personal representative, as Jackson has not shown any valid legal reason why the widow should be removed.

No hearing date has been set for the petitions, according to the court.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.