GREENFIELD — Katrina Miller’s murder was cold and calculated, the judge said.
Moments before Hancock County Superior Court 1 Judge Terry Snow handed down a 60-year sentence to convicted murderer Amanda Gonzales on Wednesday, he recounted the victim’s final moments.
The 23-year-old Indianapolis woman was walked into a cornfield on the western side of Hancock County, still wearing her night slippers, and executed with one gunshot to the head. And Gonzales, 28, of Indianapolis, is believed to have been behind it all — an act investigators say she planned out of jealousy.
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There is no way to guarantee she won’t kill again, Snow said.
Gonzales was convicted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder at the conclusion of a five-day trial last month.
Wednesday, Snow sentenced Gonzales to 60 years for murder and 30 years for conspiracy to commit murder. Those sentences will be served concurrently at a Department of Correction facility. Gonzales will serve at least 75 percent of that sentence if she has good behavior behind bars.
Investigators said Gonzales planned Miller’s killing out of jealousy after catching Miller alone in a hotel room with Gonzales’ boyfriend.
Gonzales and a friend, Joe Meyers, drove Miller to a cornfield in western Hancock County in July 2014. Miller was shot once in the head; investigators believe Meyers pulled the trigger after Gonzales couldn’t go through with the murder.
Ronnie Westbrook, Gonzales’ former boyfriend, also was in the car that day, but police say he was dropped off a few blocks from the crime scene shortly before Miller was killed. Westbrook was on parole at the time, and a GPS monitoring bracelet on his ankle lines up with his claims he wasn’t present when Miller died, police said.
Meyers was convicted of murder and kidnapping at a trial late last year and is serving a 75-year sentence. Westbrook was sentenced to serve six years in prison after he pleaded guilty to assisting a criminal, a Level 5 felony.
For Miller’s family, Wednesday’s hearing marked the end of what might be the hardest time in their lives, they said.
“We’ll rest easier, but there is no closure,” said Ryan Smythe, Miller’s brother. “There is no way to forget what happened here, but we can start to move forward.”
Family members sat in the courtroom wearing T-shirts with Miller’s photo on them, which drew an objection from Bob Beymer of Portland, the defendant’s lawyer, who implied the image could sway the judge during sentencing.
Snow scoffed at the suggestion: “Do you think that’s going to make a difference to me?” he said.
During the sentencing hearing, Prosecutor Brent Eaton asked the judge to consider Gonzales’ criminal record and several altercations she was part of during her time in the Hancock County Jail.
An investigation conducted by the Hancock County Probation Department found Gonzales was out of jail on bond at the time of Miller’s murder. Her time in jail since her arrest on the most recent charges has been marked with instances of violence, including a fight with a fellow inmate who had provided investigators with information about Miller’s murder, investigators said.
Miller’s mother, Linda Smythe, took the stand Wednesday and addressed Gonzales directly. She asked if Gonzales had ever thought about what her actions had cost Miller’s family, especially Miller’s 3-year-old daughter.
Smythe also took a moment to question Gonzales’ loyalty to her own family: had she apologized to them, Smythe asked; had she told them she loved them?
“It broke my heart when I watched your mother break down when you were handed that guilty verdict,” Smythe said.
Smythe said she prays for Gonzales. She hopes, in time, to find peace, to forgive Gonzales for taking her daughter’s life.
“I pray to God to have mercy on your soul,” Smythe said in court. “How can you be so cold-hearted?”
“We’ll rest easier, but there is no closure. There is no way to forget what happened here, but we can start to move forward,”
Ryan Smythe, brother of victim Katrina Miller