By Scott Smith
Tribune staff writer
— Statements made to police by a murder suspect won’t be used in court, after defense attorneys and the Howard County prosecutor signed an agreement just prior to a planned court hearing Tuesday.
Travis Funke remains in the Howard County jail facing murder and voluntary manslaughter charges in the 2011 disappearance of his former girlfriend, Kokomo resident Kelly Armstrong.
Tuesday, Judge Brant Parry accepted a motion to quash all statements made by Funke to police between Dec. 23, 2011, and Oct. 9, 2012.
Earlier this year, Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann offered Funke a plea that called for a guilty plea to voluntary manslaughter and a sentence of 30 years in prison.
One of the requirements of the plea agreement was for Funke to give what police call a “cleanup statement,” detailing exactly how a crime was committed.
Armstrong has never been found, but police say Funke has confessed to killing her and putting her body into a trash tote.
Police say Funke made the cleanup statement, but McCann withdrew the plea after Armstrong’s family objected to the agreement.
Immediately after the plea agreement was withdrawn, Funke’s attorneys filed a motion to have the cleanup statement quashed.
McCann initially said he would research the law and provide his response to the motion at Tuesday’s hearing. By signing the motion, McCann conceded the point to the defense.
Funke’s initial statements to police can still be used in court, however.
Armstrong’s family reported her missing Sept. 26, 2011, after she had not been heard from since July, according to court records.
When police questioned Funke at a mobile home he shared with Armstrong at 2501 Apperson Way N., Funke denied any involvement in her disappearance, according to police.
In later interviews with police, Funke said he killed Armstrong in July 2011, according to court documents filed by the prosecutor’s office.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Funke told police that he and Armstrong had been fighting, and that he thought she hit him in the head with a hammer, and that he had passed out. Police said Funke maintained that when he came to, Armstrong was dead on the floor and bleeding from the head.
Funke further stated he put a plastic bag over her head, wrapped her in a tarp and put her inside an outdoor trash container, according to police. From that information, police learned the trash from that residence was picked up and taken to the Wabash Landfill. In January, police went to the landfill and searched for six full days but did not find her body.