by Mike Fletcher
For the Pharos-Tribune
KOKOMO — A communication breakdown between prosecutors and the family of Kelly Armstrong led to the withdrawal Tuesday of a proposed plea bargain in the case against Armstrong’s suspected killer.
Prior to Tuesday’s plea hearing in Howard Superior Court 2, Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann filed a motion to withdraw a former plea, which would have had Travis Funke plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and be sentenced to 35 years in prison.
“For some reason, the police and prosecutor’s office and the family are unable to communicate,” McCann said. “Because of this, it’s in the best interest of the state to take this to trial.”
According to court documents, Funke admitted to police that he killed Armstrong July 8, 2011, but her body has never been found.
The initial plea called for prosecutors to recommend that Funke and Armstrong’s 2-year-old son, Dylan, be placed with Funke’s family as opposed to staying with the foster family where he is now.
After Armstrong’s family publicly expressed their dissatisfaction with the plea, McCann then amended the plea to take out the custody recommendation to appease the family.
But the family was still not satisfied, McCann said.
Judge Brant Parry after listening to McCann’s motion, accepted it and set a jury trial Aug. 21. That date likely will be continued at the request of Funke’s attorney, Katherine Noel.
Noel told Parry she would need more time to prepare for trial and would be filing a continuance.
Several of Armstrong’s family attended the hearing. Some were confused. Kelly’s father, David Armstrong though, was pleased with the outcome and just wants to know what happened to his daughter.
“I didn’t want the plea in the first place,” David Armstrong said after the hearing.
“You can have your plea if you give her back to us,” he said referring to Funke.