Prosecutors: Teens brought ski masks, zip ties to murder scene
Garreth Stephens (front) and Christopher Sowders were lead into court Friday morning.
Christopher Jared Sowders (Source: Clark County Jail)
Garreth Edward Stephens (Source: Clark County Jail)
Steven Baldwin (Source: Family photo)
CLARK COUNTY, IN (WAVE) - Two young men accused of breaking into a Sellersburg man's home and shooting and killing him allegedly brought ski masks, zip ties and a handgun to the victim's house.
Christopher Jared Sowders, 18, and Garreth Stephens, 19, will not be out on bail anytime soon. Judge Vicki Carmichael did not set a bond during Sowders and Stephens initial hearing Friday.
The pair are charged with murder and burglary after an alleged home invasion March 11. According to court documents, Sowders and Stephens planned to steal money from Steven Baldwin. Police said the young men became startled when they encountered Baldwin, and Sowders shot him. Baldwin later died from his injuries.
"Mr. Sowders is the one who fired the gun," prosecutor Jeremy Mull said. An arrest affidavit indicates Sowders owned a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun. The bullet recovered from Baldwin at the autopsy measured .25 inches in diameter.
Detectives also found black zip ties at the scene. "They staked out the house. They put a lot of time, effort and planning into how they were going to carry out the burglary," Mull said. "It was planned. It was premeditated."
Sowders and Stephens conspired to steal money from Baldwin's home because they knew the homeowner's stepson, according to court documents. Investigators said the pair were after cash they believed to be inside the stepson's room.
Two others, including a young man and girl, initially were involved in planning the burglary. They backed out several weeks before the crime occurred. Prosecutors claim Sowders orchestrated the crime.
Perry McCall represents Sowders. He wouldn't elaborate about the case but said the crime doesn't fit his client's character. "They're really upset, of course," McCall said of Sowders' parents. "It's their son. He's young and it's a serious charge."
During the initial hearing, the judge also read juvenile burglary charges against Sowders from a different crime he allegedly committed when he was younger.
Mull said he plans to prosecute the alleged juvenile crime under the adult statute.
Sowders and Stephens are due back in court in early June.