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MILLERSBURG -- While the defense claimed it was an "alcohol-fueled tragedy," Judge Robert Rinfret paused several times, holding back his own emotion, as he imposed a maximum 11-year prison sentence for Bobbi Amos-Camacho, who, on Wednesday, admitted to killing Jimmy Rowe Jr. in November.
Rowe, 42, of 7542 County Road 22, Loudonville, was pronounced dead late on Nov. 12, 2016, after being stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife in his home. His girlfriend, Bobbi Amos-Camacho, 43, of the same address, was arrested the following morning after making admissions consistent with the charge of murder.
She was indicted for murder, which carried a potential penalty of 15 years to life in prison, but rather than taking the case to trial, Amos-Camacho entered into an agreement with the state. She pleaded guilty to the amended charge, voluntary manslaughter, which carried a maximum of only 11 years in prison.
The Rowe family supported the deal, but asked Rinfret to impose the maximum. And, after hearing from both sides, reading several letters from the Rowe family and those who supported Amos-Camacho and reviewing photos of injuries to Amos-Camacho, the judge agreed with the state and the family and sentenced her to 11 years in prison.
Deputies and emergency personnel were dispatched to the couple's residence at 10:39 p.m. on Nov. 12 after Amos-Camacho called 911 to report that Rowe had accidentally cut himself while sharpening a knife. The two had once been married but had divorced several years ago. They recently renewed the relationship and started to cohabitate.
They arrived to find him laying face up, not breathing, on a bed in the bedroom of the residence, according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun of the Holmes County Sheriff's Office. Rowe was pronounced dead at 11:46 p.m.
Investigation at the scene by detectives and deputies indicates that the victim was apparently killed by multiple stab wounds to the torso and arm, according to Haun.
Amos-Camacho was transported to the sheriff's office for questioning because the evidence did not support her claim that Rowe had cut himself. The weapon, a kitchen knife, was recovered from inside the home, according to Haun.
Evidence showed the relationship between the two had been highly volatile and both were intoxicated at the time, according to Holmes County assistant prosecutor Steve Knowling, noting Rowe was stabbed twice in the chest and once in the arm. It was the deepest chest wound, from which he bled out internally and externally, that caused his death.
Additionally, there was no evidence to suggest he was armed with any type of weapon, according to Knowling.
A plea for mercy
Advocating for Amos-Camacho, defense attorney John Johnson Jr. referred to the death of Rowe as an "alcohol-fueled tragedy" that culminated in the loss of a son, father and brother "when Jimmy Rowe lost his life."
The facts of the case do not reflect that "Bobbi Amos loved Jimmy Rowe. She loves him still," Johnson said, adding, "She is going to have to live with the knowledge she caused his death for the rest of her life."
He suggested it wasn't the worst form of the offense and presented to Rinfret photos of Amos-Camacho showing injuries to her neck, arms and legs, which she claims were caused by Rowe.
"You have to realize that this was not a one-sided affair, a one-sided attack, noting it was a very intimate offense and "They had to be close ... face to face."
He asked Rinfret to consider what she did in the immediate wake of the incident. "She didn't run away. She didn't try to escape. She tried to help. She called 911. She tried to keep him calm. And, she applied pressure to stop bleeding. She was still trying to provide aid when the squad arrived."
Further, Johnson said, Amos-Camacho only lied about how Rowe was injured because "that is what Jimmy told her to say."
He said she agreed to the plea deal to avoid putting the family through a trial. "Bobbi Amos sits here today, taking responsibility for what happened to that man. She is shouldering the weight of the responsibility. That's no indicative of someone guilty of the worst form of the offense."
Johnson asked Rinfret to "search your heart and use all of your years of experience to fashion a just sentence in this case. Justice for Jimmy, but justice for Bobbi also."
For her part, Amos-Camacho simply said she was sorry and "I just wish it wouldn't have happened."
Dead is dead
"When Jimmy Rowe got back together with (Amos-Camacho), I'm sure everyone in this room knew it would end badly. I don't think anyone thought it would end in his death," said Knowling, who said that evidence would have shown Rowe was in the process of leaving her and the residence when she threatened him and attacked him.
And, despite the anger, passion and alcohol, Knowling said, "There's no reason he had to be stabbed."
The plea was the result of "a professional judgment made (by both sides) that it was the best way to resolve the case."
Nevertheless, it does not take away the fact Rowe is dead and "did not deserve to die."
Amos-Camacho, he said, "not only ended Jimmy Rowe's life, she ended the life everyone who knew Jimmy Rowe had with him. I do not believe 11 is too much for that."
Not in Holmes County
In his 22 years as a county prosecutor and six years on the bench, Rinfret said, there have only been two prior murders in Holmes County.
"There's a human being dead. It doesn't happen in this community. We are not Coshocton. We are not Wayne County. Our county has problems with drugs, like all counties, but this ... words don't describe it," said Rinfret.
Had she been the victim of domestic violence at the hands of Jimmy Rowe, Rinfret said, Camacho-Amos could have pursued a better alternative -- "call the police, remove yourself from the situation."
"I completely side with the victim's family," he said, adding, "The agreement reached with the state is the only consideration this court is going to give you."
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.