The Indiana Supreme Court has denied a request by Logan Owsley to hear an appeal in his case involving the unsupervised estate of his late father, Cary A. Owsley.
The order denying a petition to transfer the case to the Supreme Court was issued Friday and was unanimous from all justices on the court, according to court documents.
The case is an appeal in a Marion County probate case for Cary Owsley, which is tied to a civil obstruction-of-justice lawsuit filed by his son against current and former Bartholomew County officials.
Merrillville attorney Trent McCain, who represents Logan Owsley, said Friday he will ask the U.S. District Court to resume the federal litigation which was paused while the probate case was litigated in state court.
According to McCain, there are no pending motions in the federal case, and the case was paused during the discovery phase, which will now continue.
McCain asked the Indiana Supreme Court in a petition to consider what civil rights belong to a decedent’s estate as opposed to what rights belonged to the decedent before his death.
The attorney said he would have liked for the Indiana Supreme Court to have reviewed the matter since the law was unclear on the issue.
Attempts to reach attorneys representing the county officials were unsuccessful Friday. Attorney Elizabeth A. Hillmann Knight has said in earlier interviews the attorneys representing the county officials will not comment on pending litigation.
The response from attorneys representing the Bartholomew County officials to McCain’s petition was that the issues were fully litigated in Bartholomew Circuit Court prior to the probate case being contested.
On Nov. 21, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of a Marion Superior Court probate case filed by Logan 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, a former coroner and current and former sheriff’s deputies.
The federal lawsuit was filed 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. The federal case remains on hold by court administrative order and agreement of the parties until the probate case is settled, court records state.
Cheryl Jackson, Cary Owsley’s sister and Logan Owsley’s aunt, in an interview earlier this year, said she and her attorneys will continue to fight for Logan to be the representative for his dad — “forever, if necessary.”
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.
Cary Owsley was found dead from a gunshot wound April 7, 2013, in his home in Zephyr Village outside of Columbus, which was ruled a suicide by then-coroner Fisher.
The suicide ruling was challenged by Jackson, who contends the Bartholomew County officials botched the investigation and lost or mishandled evidence that could have proved that her brother was murdered.
Gorbett acknowledged critical errors in the early stage of the department’s investigation into Cary Owsley’s death. Janes, Nunemaker and Johnson were disciplined by Gorbett in July 2013 for errors in judgment they made in the April 7 investigation that year of Cary Owsley’s death.
Gorbett said the three violated department procedures and failed to manage the death scene correctly or properly preserve evidence.
Johnson was suspended for 10 days without pay for unsatisfactory performance and conduct unbecoming of an officer.
Nunemaker was suspended for 10 days without pay and reassigned from the detective bureau to the uniform division. She was cited for unsatisfactory performance and conduct unbecoming of an officer. She later left the department.
Janes was suspended for five days without pay for violating departmental policies and procedures, specifically conduct unbecoming of an officer. He also subsequently left the department.
All three were required to take remedial training in death-scene investigations and how to preserve evidence.
Special Judge Richard Poynter ruled Feb. 10, 2016 in Bartholomew Circuit Court that the Cary Owsley estate should be closed and Logan Owsley would keep the federal lawsuit as abandoned property from the estate. The ruling allowed Logan Owsley to have legal standing in the federal lawsuit, according to the Owsley attorneys.
However, when Logan Owsley’s attorneys reopened his father’s estate in Marion County, it was challenged by the Bartholomew County officials’ attorneys, which led to the probate-court litigation.