Pitts sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2017 death of Anita Oswald

·2 min read

Oct. 22—A Terre Haute man received a 30-year prison sentence today for his guilty pleas to voluntary manslaughter and burglary in the November 2017 slaying of a local landlord.

Kenneth Pitts Jr., 59, made a brief apology to his family and the family of Alice "Anita" Oswald this morning in Vigo Superior Court 6.

Pitts added that he wants "everybody else involved to be held in accountability for their actions, too."

No other persons have been charged in connection with the death of Oswald, who was beaten to death at her home on Second Avenue on Nov. 9, 2017.

Her body was recovered several weeks later in the back seat of her missing vehicle, which had been sunk in a pond in southeastern Vigo County near a property owned by Pitts.

Oswald had a protective order against Pitts, who had been involved in an earlier burglarization of her home.

According to a probable cause affidavit, investigators believe Oswald came upon Pitts burglarizing her home again on the day she was killed.

Oswald, who was known to carry a firearm, shot Pitts in the face. Pitts then struck Oswald with a small ax at least twice in the face and head, killing her.

A fire was set inside Oswald's home two days after her death. Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said the fire was an attempt to destroy evidence of the homicide and burglary. Modesitt said Pitts admitted those facts to two witnesses who would have testified at trial.

Defense attorney Kay Beehler said Pitts had a very troubled childhood including neglect, physical and sexual abuse, and had no encouragement to live a law-abiding life. Beehler cited as an example that as a young child, Pitts was lowered down a chimney so he could unlock the door of a building his family planned to burglarize.

Pitts signed a plea agreement in June that capped his possible prison sentence at 30 years on both Level 2 felonies of voluntary manslaughter and burglary charges. The plea agreement dropped a murder charge as well as also other pending criminal cases and probation violations against Pitts in Vigo County cases.

In announcing the maximum sentence of 30 years, Judge Michael Lewis noted Pitts will get about 4.5 years credit for his time spent in custody awaiting trial, as well as any credits he gets from the Department of Correction for programs completed.

Pitts told the judge he intends to appeal his sentence.

This article will be updated.

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