Leipsic resident Tony Mozick Jr. was sentenced Thursday to at least 15 years in prison in connection with the August 2013 death of his girlfriend, Taylor Owens.
Tony Mozick Jr., agreeing to a plea bargain with state prosecutors, was sentenced Thursday morning to spend the next 15 years in prison for killing his 19-year-old girlfriend, Taylor Owens.
According to Delaware State Police, Owens had last been seen on Aug. 31, 2013; her family reported her missing on Sept. 4.
Owens’ badly burned remains were found Sept. 7 in a wooded area near the Denny Street home in Leipsic she shared with Mozick.
Mozick, 22, told police he and Owens had gotten into a fight and that she fell and hit her head on a doorknob, causing her death. When arrested, he was charged with first-degree murder and abusing a corpse.
In the agreement, Mozick instead pled guilty to the charge of abusing a corpse, a misdemeanor, and to a reduced charge of manslaughter.
The atmosphere in the Kent County Superior Courtroom was subdued as Mozick was led into the chamber, dressed in white prison garb, his arms free, but his legs shackled. He sat quietly talking with public defender Robert Harpster.
Owens’ friends and family members sat off to the side. Several sobbed quietly.
Superior Court Judge James T. Vaughn Jr. explained the terms of the plea agreement to Mozick, asking several times if he understood the terms of the plea agreement.
“You admit your guilt to both charges?” Vaughn asked.
“Yes, sir,” Mozick replied.
Prosecutor Greg Babowal said Mozick attempted to cover up his crime by cremating Owens’ body. The corpse burned for several days while Owens’ family and friends searched for her.
The state medical examiner had doubts about Mozick’s version of events, particularly the story about her hitting her head, Babowal said. The condition of Owens’ body, however, made it difficult to ascertain the exact cause of death, although she did rule it a homicide.
Owens’ family declined to speak to the media, but her sister, Amber Kidwell, read a prepared statement to Vaughn expressing their outrage at Mozick’s actions and their despair in coping with her death.
“Taylor was a good person who did not deserve what happened to her,” Kidwell said.
The family, Kidwell added, was living a nightmare, still in a state of shock.
Throughout the statement, Mozick sat by himself in a corner of the courtroom, eyes on the floor and watched over by a Department of Correction officer.
Vaughn then imposed the sentence in the manslaughter charge, 25 years in prison, which will be suspended after 15 years; he received a one-year sentence for abusing Owens’ corpse. The terms, as well as probation afterward, will be served concurrently.
Mozick could have received a full 25-year term on the manslaughter charge, Babowal said.
The state agreed to the plea agreement because of the state of Owens’ remains.
“This case was frustrating in that Miss Owens’ corpse was so badly burned,” he said. “We could not confirm exactly what happened to her.
“The medical examiner decided it was a homicide and we prosecuted it as a homicide.”
“Given everything, we think it was a fair resolution,” Babowal concluded.