SCOTTSBURG, IN (WAVE) - An Indiana man is charged with murdering his ex-wife and then dumping her body. Court documents show Robert Petty admitted to police that he choked Nina Keown, left her, and knew he had probably killed her. Petty was is in court for the first time on this case and arraigned on four charges, which include murder. He showed no emotion. The judge entered a plea of not guilty and set a trial date for February 2011.
"Angry," said Debbie Conover who is the victim's mother. "I am so angry. I don't even know the words to say."
Conover's daughter disappeared in early August. Family, friends, and volunteers cowered neighborhoods and fields looking for her body. Police found her remains in the woods, and a man she used to call family could be responsible.
"He's an animal," said Conover. "Who could do that to someone? I just can't understand.
Thirty-one-year-old Petty walked into court in a jumpsuit. He is serving time on an unrelated charge in Clark County. In this case he is charged with murdering his ex-wife, dumping her body in the woods, lying to police, and being a habitual felony offender. In court the judge read his criminal history, which includes theft and robbery convictions.
"I just can't understand how anybody can do anything like that and I want to see him pay for it," said Conover. "Then leaving her for weeks and just straight out lying to me and telling me he didn't know where she was, makes you really angry, really mad."
The two had a history of domestic violence.
"He held her down on the bed and growled like a monster she said and to her face," said friend Tiffany Castillo. "Nina was on a bad road. She should have never went back. If she had stayed away she would have been here this day."
Keown's mother says she had to intervene before, but this time nobody called her for help.
"I just want to see him pay and get the maximum penalty," said Conover
Prosecutor Jason Mount says Petty could be facing up to 95 years.