An appeal in a probate case for the late Cary Owsley, tied to a civil obstruction-of-justice lawsuit filed by his son against current and former Bartholomew County officials, is headed to the Indiana Supreme Court.
Trent McCain, a Merrillville attorney who represents Cary Owsley’s son in the probate case and the federal case, said he is preparing a petition seeking to ask that Indiana’s highest court hear the appeal of an Indiana Court of Appeals ruling issued in late November.
The appeals court on Nov. 21 upheld dismissal of a Marion Superior Court probate case filed by Logan A. Owsley, who had attempted to become the personal representative of his father’s estate in order to continue a federal lawsuit against a former Bartholomew County sheriff, former coroner and current and former sheriff’s deputies.
The Marion County probate court had dismissed the estate case on Nov. 1, 2016, and McCain had appealed, seeking to overturn that ruling.
The federal lawsuit was filed on April 7, 2015, by Logan Owsley in U.S. District Court against then-Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett, then-Coroner Larry Fisher and current and former sheriff’s deputies E. DeWayne Janes Sr., Dean A. Johnson, Christie L. Nunemaker, Brent E. Worman, William R. Kinman Jr. and Christopher Roberts. It remains on hold by court administrative order and agreement of the parties until the probate case is settled, court records state.
Logan Owsley is seeking legal standing to continue his federal lawsuit, alleging obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the investigation into Cary Owsley’s death.
The Indiana Supreme Court has the option of accepting or declining to hear the case at its discretion, McCain said. The petition must be filed within 30 days of the appeals court ruling, which would be before Dec. 21, he said.
Cheryl Jackson, Cary Owsley’s sister and Logan Owsley’s aunt, said she and her attorneys will continue to fight for Logan to be the representative for his dad — “forever, if necessary,” she said.
“We don’t think it’s fair that county officials continue to fight to remove Logan as representative,” she said. “It’s just not fair, and it’s not legal.”
Jackson recently attended the Luminary Night of Remembrance at Garland Brook Cemetery in Columbus, where luminaries were placed at Cary Owsley’s grave site.
“We come home every year for that,” she said. “We appreciate the support of the people of Bartholomew County who come out to pay their respects every year.”
Cary Owsley was found dead from a gunshot wound April 7, 2013, in his home in Zephyr Village outside Columbus, which was ruled a suicide by then-coroner Fisher.
The suicide ruling was challenged by Jackson, who said Bartholomew County officials botched the investigation and lost or mishandled evidence that could have proved that her brother was murdered.
In Bartholomew County, Special Judge Richard Poynter ruled on Feb. 10, 2016, in Bartholomew Circuit Court that the Cary Owsley estate should be closed and Logan Owsley could keep the federal lawsuit as abandoned property from the estate. This ruling allowed Logan Owsley to have legal standing in the federal lawsuit, his attorneys said.
However, Logan Owsley’s attorneys reopened his father’s estate in Marion County, which was challenged by attorneys for the Bartholomew County officials and employees, which led to the probate court litigation.
Attorneys for the county defendants have filed a motion giving 14 amended defenses as to why the federal lawsuit should be dismissed, including the allegation that Logan Owsley lacks proper standing to bring the claims set forth in the federal lawsuit.