Two Calloway County men charged in connection to the beating death of Carl Douglas McGowan pleaded guilty to amended charges during a preliminary hearing in Calloway Circuit Court Monday afternoon.
Michael S. Lynch, 28, of Murray entered an Alford plea of guilty but mentally ill to a charge of wanton murder as part of a plea agreement with Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark Blankenship’s office. Under the agreement, Lynch will be sentenced to 25 years in prison. Blankenship said Lynch, already a convicted felon, would have to serve at least 85 percent of that sentence before he will be eligible for parole.
Blankenship said he is satisfied with the deal. A charge of murder, which may have been reduced to manslaughter during a trial, was part of the agreement and was what he considers a “just result.”
“If you are guilty but mental ill you still get a term, but you will serve your term in a mental institution under the department of corrections,” Blankenship said. “Even if he is declared to be well by some psychiatrist then he still has to finish the term.”
Blankenship said law enforcement investigators and McGowan’s family were satisfied with the deal.
“With this not being an intentional murder but just a senseless killing that got out of control in terms of a fight, we had some reservations that the jury might go to manslaughter. Lynch is the one that we believe committed all or most of the violence that resulted in the man’s death,” Blankenship said.
When entering an Alford plea, the accused does not admit guilt but does admit the state may have evidence to prove the stated charge.
While being questioned concerning the plea by Judge Dennis Foust, Lynch said he was in agreement.
“It’s an all right offer,” he said. “I never denied the fact that we had an altercation.”
Lynch was represented by attorney Cheri Decker of the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy’s Murray office. Decker said Lynch has shown remorse for McGowan’s death and his part in it.
“Mr. Lynch is sincerely sorry for any role that he played in Mr. McGowan’s death,” Decker said. “Mr. McGowan’s death was very unfortunate and the result of many factors at work that night, including some very important factors beyond Mr. Lynch’s control. This plea agreement takes into account some of the factors that contributed to Mr. McGowan’s death, especially those factors that Mr. Lynch could not control.”
Also entering an Alford plea of guilty in connection to the crime was Timothy Adams, 30, of Main Street. He pleaded to second-degree manslaughter and tampering with evidence in the case. Adams had been charged with complicity to murder and tampering with physical evidence. According to Adam’s agreement with Blankenship’s office, he will be required to serve a total of 12 years; 10 years on the manslaughter charge and two for tampering, to run consecutively. Adams had been on eight years parole stemming from previous charges, it was reported.
“So we saw it as basically getting a 20-year package on him,” Blankenship said.
Both men were scheduled to stand trial under the original charges beginning today; however that trial has been canceled. Both Lynch and Adams were set for sentencing on Oct. 25, in circuit court.
Blankenship said Adams involvment amounted to driving Lynch to the scene and helping to dispose of McGowan’s body.
Two other persons charged with complicity in the crime have already had their sentences settled. Previously pleading innocent to complicity to murder were Tiffany Adams, 18, of Main Street, Murray, and Jessica Johnson, 19, of Columbus Lane. Both women served six months in jail. Under a plea agreement, Johnson signed up for six months of alcohol and drug rehabilitation and is set to graduate soon. According to Blankenship, drugs and alcohol may have played a significant part in the crime.
“Adams is in a discharge situation on the condition she not get into any more trouble,” Blankenship said. “They ended up with drug-related misdemeanor convictions and we did that on the front end to try to get more information about what really happened out there.”
Blankenship said he would have considered charges against the two women for not reporting the crime to police after the fact.
But Kentucky law, presently, does not allow for it. Except for automobile accidents, charges can not be brought against an individual for not reporting a crime; even a crime as serious as murder, according to Blankenship.
According to Calloway County Sheriff's Department investigators, McGowan's body was found near the intersection of Ky. 280 and Douglas Road near New Concord in October 2009 after he had been reported missing by family members. An autopsy determined that McGowan's death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma. CCSO officials said they believe the crime happened at the intersection where the body was found and that Lynch allegedly assaulted McGowan while the others did nothing to stop it.