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Woman sentenced to 15 years for shooting ex-boyfriend to death
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Woman sentenced to 15 years for shooting ex-boyfriend to death

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Erin Nicolle Sowa

Erin Nicolle Sowa

CROWN POINT — A Lake Criminal Court judge recently sentenced a Highland woman to 15 years in prison for shooting her ex-boyfriend to death last year in a Gary alley.

Erin N. Sowa, 24, gave up a claim of self-defense when she pleaded guilty in April to voluntary manslaughter, Judge Salvador Vasquez said.

The judge sentenced Sowa to the maximum term under her plea agreement.

Ride along with LaPorte Police Specialist Justin Dyer as he patrols the streets of LaPorte.

Sowa shot Anthony Syler, 27, of Gary, in the head "in sudden heat" April 8, 2020, in an alley east of the 700 block of Cleveland Street.

Sowa's attorney, Patrick Young, said Sowa decided to take the state's plea offer rather than go to trial and risk being convicted of murder, which carries a 45- to 65-year sentence.

Young began to argue Sowa had been in an abusive relationship with Syler. 

He presented photos of a knife wound Syler inflicted on himself during a confrontation between Syler and Sowa that led to Syler's death.

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Tara Villarreal objected to Young's statements, saying they weren't relevant because Young presented no evidence to support them.

Vasquez agreed and told Young he needed to present evidence if he wanted to argue Sowa deserved leniency because of trauma from alleged abuse.

Villarreal said Sowa made the decision to go to Syler, and there was no evidence Syler threatened to hurt her with the knife he used on himself or a set of brass knuckles found in his pants pockets.

Sowa fired the gun three times, hitting Syler once in the head, she said. The gun jammed during the other two shots.

"At the end of the day, Anthony Syler lost his life because of her," Villarreal said.

Sowa already received a break because of her plea agreement, and any further leniency would depreciate the seriousness of the crime, the prosecutor said.

Vasquez agreed.

"I don't see giving you a lesser sentence on this one," the judge said. "You killed a man."

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