A Bartholomew County man’s 67-year sentence for his conviction of murdering his great-aunt and abusing her corpse has been upheld after the killer appealed the length of time he must serve in prison.
Bobby N. Truitt II, 21, was sentenced in May for the brutal murder of 64-year-old Sharon Lovins in her Waynesville home on Sept. 27, 2020. Truitt admitted to killing his relative and abusing her corpse. Bartholomew Superior Court 1 Judge James Worton sentenced Truitt to a term just short of the legal maximum for both offenses.
“She was beaten to death with a hammer by someone whom she loved and cared for,” the judge said at Truitt’s sentencing. “We’ll probably never know why.”
At his sentencing, Truitt described the woman he killed as a great person who did much to help him.
“I wish I could take it all back,” Truitt said. “It was inhuman what I did.”
On appeal, Truitt’s appellate defense counsel, Jane Ann Noblitt of Columbus, argued that the trial court had not given proper consideration to Truitt’s mitigating circumstances before imposing a sentence near the maximum.
“Truitt contends that the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to find his remorse and difficult upbringing to be mitigating and in failing to give his mental-health issues, youth, and guilty plea sufficient weight,” Indiana Court of Appeals Chief Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the three-judge panel that heard Truitt’s appeal.
However, the appeals court on Monday issued its ruling that rejected those claims and upheld Truitt’s sentence. The panel that also included judges Terry Crone and Rudy Pyle III ruled that the five aggravating factors that Worton found supported the sentence that he imposed.
The aggravating factors included: Truitt’s criminal history; the nature of the offense; the crime occurred while Truitt was on bond for a sexual-battery charge; his victim was a close and loving relative who had just bonded him out of jail; and the emotional harm caused to Lovins’ surviving family and friends.
“We conclude that Truitt has not shown an abuse of discretion in the trial court’s consideration of facts bearing on his sentence, as his complaint that the trial court’s weighing of mitigating facts was erroneous is no longer part of Indiana’s review of sentences,” the appeals court ruled in affirming the trial court.
Probable cause affidavits written by investigators in Truitt’s case portrayed the victim as kind-hearted. Prior to her murder, Lovins had bailed her great-nephew out of jail in Franklin, given him a ride back to Columbus, and offered to let him stay temporarily with her.
“She was trying to help him out, but within 24 hours, she was gone,” Bartholomew County Deputy Prosecutor Greg Long argued before Worton earlier this year, arguing for a lengthy sentence for Truitt.
Worton described Lovins, an Applied Laboratories employee nearing retirement age when she was killed, as “a cherished person in our community who didn’t deserve what happened to her.”
After Lovins was killed, Truitt told investigators he took her 1995 Ford Explorer and drove it to Indianapolis, where surveillance equipment showed him inquiring about buying a bus ticket to New York City, according to court documents.
Two days after the murder, Truitt was arrested after being found on an Indianapolis street among a group of panhandling homeless individuals. He was arrested and returned to Bartholomew County, the affidavit states.
On appeal, the defense pleaded to give weight to Truitt’s troubled childhood, a juvenile delinquency and criminal record in Bartholomew, Jennings and other counties, and a history of mental health and substance abuse.
“There are a lot of people who had rough childhoods that do not brutally murder a loved one,” Worton said at sentencing, rejecting Truitt’s arguments for leniency.
According to the Indiana Department of Correction, Truitt is imprisoned in the Miami Correctional Facility near Bunker Hill. His earliest project release date is April 10, 2071. He would be 69 years old.