UPDATE: SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A judge has convicted a man who died in jail after pleading guilty to murder in the 1988 beating death of a pregnant South Bend woman.
St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha on Wednesday accepted the plea that 78-year-old George Kearney entered on March 11.
Kearney was scheduled to be sentenced Friday, but he died Sunday in jail. Prosecutors say Kearney had been terminally ill and that his health had deteriorated over the past week.
Kearney admitted killing 28-year-old Miriam Rice, who was abducted June 24, 1988, while walking her dog in a park. Her body was found about a week later obscured by foliage.
Kearney's former girlfriend, 56-year-old Barbara Brewster also was charged with murder and is due to stand trial in June.
PREVIOUS POST: The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide unit is investigating the death of 77-year-old inmate George Kearney. He was found dead at the St. Joseph County Jail just before midnight Saturday.
He was charged in the 1988 beating death of a pregnant mother whose body was found in South Bend. He was set to be sentenced in a matter of days on March 29.
Emergency medical technicians were called to the jail at approximately 11:56 p.m., and Kearney was pronounced dead at approximately 12:05 Sunday morning.
The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit (CMHU) was activated to investigate the death, as per protocol for all in-custody deaths.
According to jail medical staff, Mr. Kearney was suffering from a terminal illness and his condition had been deteriorating over the past weeks. Mr. Kearney recently signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" order with the medical staff, and no lifesaving measures were taken after it was discovered that he had stopped breathing, per his request.
The St. Joseph County Coroner’s Office has ordered an autopsy per protocol. That autopsy is scheduled to take place Monday, March 25th at 10:30 a.m. in Ft. Wayne.
Kearney was being held in the St. Joseph County Jail on a charge of Murder and was awaiting sentencing on that case.
ORIGINAL POST: SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - One of two people charged in the 1988 beating death of a pregnant mother in northwest Indiana has pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors in St. Joseph County say 78-year-old George Kearney entered the murder plea Monday, three years after he agreed to speak with police about the slaying of 28-year-old Miriam Rice in South Bend.
Kearney was in prison for an unrelated crime when he confessed and said his co-defendant, 56-year-old Barbara Brewster, was also responsible. Both were charged last year .
Court documents allege Brewster's adult son later told investigators that Kearney abducted Rice as she walked her dog, and that his mother fatally beat Rice with tools in a van in June 1988. The son says he was in the van at the time.
Kearney faces 40 to 60 years in prison when sentenced March 29.