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Man pleads down from murder in Dearborn County shooting that killed nephew

Robert Marksberry, 65, will serve 10 years for voluntary manslaughter.
Robert Marksberry
Robert Marksberry(Prosecuting Attorney Lynn Deddens)
Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 6:58 PM EDT
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DEARBORN COUNTY, In. (FOX19) - An Indiana man initially charged with murdering his nephew has pleaded down to a count of voluntary manslaughter, according to Dearborn County Prosecutor Lynn Deddens.

New facts uncovered in the police investigation led Deddens to pursue the plea agreement.

Nicholas Woodruff, then 19, died on May 28, 2020, after Robert Marksberry, 65, shot him in the chest.

Deddens says Marksberry fired the fatal shot “under the influence of a sudden heat of passion,” which constitutes voluntary manslaughter under Indiana statutes, not murder.

The final fact pattern places Marksberry and another man at Woodruff’s home in Aurora on the night of the shooting.

Marksberry was in the driver’s seat of his truck when Woodruff jumped in the truck bed and started sorting through items. Police previously said Marksberry picked up either a chainsaw or a trimmer.

Marksberry, says Deddens, was worried Woodruff would take something and warned him to get away, but Woodruff became aggressive and asked something like, “What are you going to do about it, Old Man?”

Police previously said Marksberry warned Woodruff he would shoot him. Deddens’ new account does not contain that information.

Woodruff then got out of the bed and went to the driver’s side door, where Deddens says he hit Marksberry at least once in the face. That’s when Marksberry shot Woodruff with a handgun.

The police investigation showed Woodruff had bought and used methamphetamine shortly before the shooting, according to Deddens.

Marksberry fled the scene but was arrested hours later at a Switzerland County home, police say.

Police say he purchased the gun and bullets earlier in the day from a family member in Aurora.

Marksberry pleaded to the voluntary manslaughter charge on June 15. He received a 30-year-sentence with 20 years suspended to probation, leaving a 10-year sentence to serve, Deddens says.

“The killing of another human being is a horrible act, and certainly tragic when it involves such a young victim,” Deddens explained. “However, the circumstances of the shooting, particularly the evidence showing that the victim approached Marksberry and stuck him in the face, once maybe twice immediately before the shooting, indicated that Marksberry fired the fatal shot while under the influence of a sudden heat of passion. Our statutes say that this act constitutes voluntary manslaughter, not murder.

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