Mishawaka man pleads guilty ahead of third trial for triple murder
Wayne Kubsch pleaded guilty to murder Monday morning in a dispositional hearing.
The hearing was unexpected, taking place just before jury selection was set to begin in the third murder trial against the Mishawaka man.
A murder case two decades ago is finally coming to a close.
Wayne Kubsch entered a surprise guilty plea Monday.
He's accused of killing his wife Beth, her ex-husband Rick Milewski and their 10-year-old son Aaron Milewski in 1998.
Kubsch has faced a jury before in this case. He's been convicted and sentenced to death twice. But those sentences were overturned on appeal.
Kubsch and his attorneys were all set to repeat the process a third time, jury selection was actually slated for Monday morning.
But in a move that surprised pretty much every one, Kubsch pleaded guilty.
Wayne Kubsch has spent the past two decades behind bars. He'll likely spend the rest of his life there, too.
He'll know for sure on March 8.
“We’re very happy we have a sentencing date. If the judge accepts the plea, life without parole will be the sentence and that will be the end of this particular case for our community,” said Eric Tamashasky, St. Joseph County chief deputy prosecuting attorney.
This ending came with a plea deal. The murder charge for the death of 10-year-old Aaron Milewski was dropped. But the family of Beth Kubsch agreed to the deal.
“In speaking with them it appeared relief not having to face another trial. That’s a big burden to be lifted off,” said Christopher Fronk, St. Joseph County deputy prosecuting attorney.
The question on many minds today is, why now? Why did Kubsch sit through two trials only to plead guilty right before the third?
"I can’t speculate as to where his head was and what the last 20 years mean. What we are concerned about is what we are going to do going forward," said Tamashasky.
Going forward, the men are expecting the maximum sentence without all the expense that often comes with it.
"It saves the family and the community a jury trial, and the actual ultimate sentence here is no different than if we had done a three-week trial and got to the endpoint,” said Tamashasky. “Life without parole is life without parole and I think that’s a very important feature of this particular agreement."
Another important detail -- Kubsch can't request a sentence modification down the line. Also, he can't do what he's done after the last two trials.
“Plea bargains necessarily foreclose direct appeals,” said Fronk.
WSBT 22 did reach out to Kubsch's attorneys Monday. Mark Lenyo originally agreed to send me a written statement by email. However, he later replied back that he no longer wished to do so.