A Carroll County jury on Wednesday found a New Windsor man guilty of first-degree murder and other charges related to the 2016 killing of his fiancee.
Bret Michael Wheeler stood silently between his attorneys at the defense table shaking his head slightly as the verdict was delivered by the jury foreman.
In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Wheeler, 26, formerly of the 2000 block of Dennings Road, was also found guilty of first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and accessory after first-degree murder. First-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
Wheeler was charged as a co-conspirator to Robert Theodore Bosley, who was convicted in April of murdering Wheeler's fiancee, Kandi Gerber, on Aug. 8, 2016.
Following the verdict, the defense requested a jury poll. Each juror replied, "Yes," when asked if this was their verdict.
The jury deliberated for approximately 5 1/2 hours Tuesday afternoon after hearing closing arguments from state prosecutors and defense attorneys, and resumed deliberations at 9 a.m. Wednesday before returning their verdict just before 2 p.m. on the eighth day of proceedings in the case, heard before Judge Barry Hughes.
"I extend my sincere appreciation for the detailed and thoughtful deliberations of the jury in considering all of the evidence presented in this tragic case," Carroll County State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said in a news release. "My office again expresses our condolences to the family of Kandi Gerber and promises that we will continue to seek justice for Ms. Gerber whose life was brutally ended."
Eric Offutt, one of two attorneys for the defense, said Wheeler will likely appeal the verdict.
"We're all certainly disappointed in the way the jury came back, certainly had hoped they would evaluate the evidence and the law differently than it appears they did," Offutt said.
Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
Wheeler's attorneys had argued Wheeler was under duress and in fear for his own life, and that Gerber's murder was not premeditated, a requirement of the first-degree murder charge, rather it was the result of an eviction gone wrong.
Prosecutors argued that Bosley strangled Gerber and cut her throat multiple times after the two had a confrontation in the basement of the Dennings Road residence, a confrontation Wheeler knew was going to occur, they said.
During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Edward Coyne said the pivotal moment occurred when Wheeler went into the basement, saw Gerber was still alive after the initial attack, and chose to assist Bosley by keeping watch outside instead of attempting to assist Gerber.
"This is a case where the defendant chose Robert Bosley over his fiancee Kandi Gerber," Coyne said Tuesday.
A sentencing hearing for Bosley is scheduled for Dec. 5, 2017.