Robert Petty guilty in death of ex-wife - News, Weather & Sports

Robert Petty guilty in death of ex-wife

Robert Petty being led into the courthouse on February 13. Robert Petty being led into the courthouse on February 13.
Debbie Conover Debbie Conover
Jason Mount Jason Mount
Petty being led from the courthouse after his conviction. Petty being led from the courthouse after his conviction.

SCOTTSBURG, IN (WAVE) - A jury of 12 people deliberated for almost five hours before reaching a verdict in the trial of Robert Petty.  

Petty, 33, was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the August 2010 death of Nina Keown, his ex-wife, and dumping her body. 

Investigators said Petty admitted to getting into a fight with Nina Keown. Weeks later, Petty then led them to her body in a Clark County field.

During closing arguments, prosecutors reiterated "actions speak louder than words" and that Petty spoke through his actions of misleading and misdirecting police time and time again.

Petty testified Monday he had no intentions of killing Keown. He admitted to applying pressure to her throat, but not enough to kill her.

The repeat felony offender says he did not want to get in trouble for violating his probation with drinking, and that's why he ditched her body and evidence in different places after he admitted he choked her for four or five seconds. Doctors testified that was just long enough to make her unconscious.

The defense argued that Keown's body was so badly decomposed there was not enough evidence to prove she died from strangulation.

Closing arguments from the defense continued Wednesday morning. The prosecutor also addressed the jury once again before the case was handed to jurors to decide Petty's fate.

In addition to murder, Petty was facing charges of removal of a body from scene and obstruction of justice.

"I'm glad it's over," said Debbie Conover, Keown's mother. "Listening to these last two weeks brought up a lot of things about my daughter -- how they found her, things like that -- that I really had not known previously, and that was very, very hard to take."

While the jury had the option to find Petty guilty of murder, they didn't; instead finding him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice, and removal of a body.

But the prosecutor explains since Petty pleaded guilty to being a habitual offender, his maximum sentence will be similar to a murder conviction.

"I do understand the verdict that we got. I am thankful that we have a habitual felony offender finding on this case because without that, the maximum sentence on this case would have been 20 years, but because we have the habitual finding that should add another 30 to the maximum which puts it back in that murder range," said Scott County Prosecutor Jason Mount.

Petty faces a maximum of 56 years, but through the entire trial and verdict, he never once showed any expression.

"He never showed emotion. Even when they showed the pictures of her body on this hillside. Never showed emotion. And that is very hard to take," Conover said.

Petty will be sentenced on April 17.

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