News Feature

Originally published in The Weekly Packet, March 22, 2018
Blue Hill man pleads to lesser charges in 2016 kidnapping

by Anne Berleant

The second defendant in a 2016 Blue Hill kidnapping case was sentenced in Hancock County Unified Court March 23 under a plea arrangement with the Hancock County District Attorney’s office.

Brian C. Fowler, 36, received a three-year suspended sentence on a Class C felony charge of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, and concurrent 24-hour sentences on misdemeanor charges of criminal restraint. He was granted credit for time already served.

Nine felony counts were dismissed, including two counts of kidnapping, two counts criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, two counts of reckless conduct with a firearm, and three counts of terrorizing with a dangerous weapon.

The court also amended an original felony charge of reckless conduct with a firearm, which carries a mandatory prison sentence, to reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon as part of the plea arrangement. As a convicted felon, Fowler may not buy or use firearms.

Fowler must also serve two years probation with conditions that he seek a psychological evaluation and follow recommendations for treatment, submit to random searches of his property for firearms and weapons, and not associate with Kenneth Charles or the three individuals named as victims, two of whom were juveniles at the time.

According to a sheriff’s office investigation, on September 29, 2016 Fowler and Charles, 57, of Blue Hill, detained two individuals in one vehicle and another in a second vehicle, with the only exit from the dead-end road blocked by their cars, in the back woods off Mother Bush Lane off of South Street, and interrogated them about drug trafficking. One of the victims was forced to kneel at gunpoint, with Fowler standing behind him with a drawn handgun. Fowler then shot the gun a number of times into the air. The three individuals were eventually released unharmed.

“We view this as appropriate compromise,” Fowler’s attorney, Robert Van Horn, told the court. “There were some factual disputes.”

Charles was previously sentenced in a separate plea arrangement to one year of probation and psychological evaluation on two misdemeanor charges, threatening display of a weapon and impersonating a public servant, after pleading no contest November 6, with the remaining 10 felony and two misdemeanor charges dismissed.

In sentencing Fowler, Judge Robert A. Murray noted that, according to a statement entered into court, the victim sought a “resolution that was addressed by sentencing, namely a felony conviction that will prohibit firearms and the probation condition of submitting to psychological evaluation…which I fully concur with.”

Fowler paid court costs and fines of about $1,500 following adjournment.