Hancz-Barron Appeals Sentence After Being Found Guilty of Quadruple Murder

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) – Cohen B. Hancz-Barron, a Fort Wayne man found guilty of killing his girlfriend and her three young children, appealed his sentence Thursday in Indiana Supreme Court. Hancz-Barron, who was 21 at the time of the killings, appealed his conviction of the murders of 26-year-old Sarah Nicole Zent and her children, 5-year-old Carter Mathew Zent, 3-year-old Ashton Duwayne Zent, and 2-year-old Aubree Christine Zent, after the family was found dead at their home on Gay Street in June 2021.

In 2022, a jury found Hancz-Barron guilty of four murder counts. The jury recommended that Hancz-Barron receive four consecutive sentences of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a sentence which was imposed by the trial court. The defense attorney, Gregory Fumarolo, argued in the state Supreme Court that the four consecutive sentences were “inappropriate.”

Chief Justice Rush engaged with the attorney, requesting a specific example of what an appropriate alternative sentence would be. Later, Rush emphasized the significance of the consecutive sentences in demonstrating that “each life matters” as the case involved four horrific murders, not just one.

Fumarolo contended that there was no history of domestic abuse between Hancz-Barron and Zent, and maintained that they had a loving relationship up until the day before the killings. He also argued that there was very little, if any, direct evidence linking Hancz-Barron to the murders. However, Justice Molter highlighted items in the house with Hancz-Barron’s DNA and the absence of his DNA on Zent’s neck, to which Fumarolo responded by emphasizing the lack of conclusive evidence.

On the other hand, Attorney Courtney Straton defended the current sentencing, asserting that the evidence of Hancz-Barron’s guilt was overwhelming. Straton urged the court to consider the nature of the offenses committed and the character of Hancz-Barron as an offender.

The justices concluded by stating that they would be further discussing the case and that an opinion would be issued in due course.