SOUTH BEND — Guilty — that’s the verdict for 56-year-old Barbara Brewster. She beat to death a pregnant Miriam Rice back in 1988.
77-year old George Kearney pleaded guilty to helping in the murder. He died in jail earlier this year before he could be sentenced.
We spoke to the prosecutor about this long road to justice.
Barbara Brewster didn’t have much of a reaction when that guilty verdict came down.
But it meant a lot to Miriam Rice’s family, who have been waiting so long for a final answer in her death.
They’re not the only ones relieved to see this verdict, though; the prosecutor says it brings justice to the whole community.
Prosecutor Ken Cotter says people all around South Bend remember the day Miriam Rice was killed.
Cotter still doesn’t know the motive, but he does know Rice was a stranger to Brewster and Kearney when she was killed.
“It wasn’t just that she was killed — how she was killed also had a profound effect on our community,” said Cotter.
Experts testified in court that Rice’s skull was completely smashed.
A forensic pathologist compared it to swinging a baseball bat to hit a homerun.
Brewster’s own son testified that he witnessed the brutal beating by his mother, and Brewster’s daughter says she had to help clean up the mess — including Rice’s blood that covered her brother.
She was seven and he was only six.
“There’s no question that they are both victims,” said Cotter.
Brewster’s kids’ testimony was critical to the prosecution’s case, but securing that testimony… was no easy task.
Cotter said he had a dedicated team of investigators. He says that work and this verdict brings justice for Brewster’s kids and Rice’s family.
Three of Miriam’s siblings were in court to hear the verdict, as well as her son James and her husband Jeff.
“He said, ‘I don’t know what the verdict is going to be. That’s not up to me and that’s not up to you but you gave me closure, so thank you,’” said Cotter.
Rice’s family told the prosecutor they don’t want to give a public statement until the sentencing.
Cotter says that gives them a chance to process what is obviously huge news.
Brewster is set for sentencing in August.