JURY: Man found guilty on all counts in 2021 quadruple homicide

Recommends life without possibility of parole
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 10:09 AM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Fort Wayne’s NBC) - An Allen County jury has found a Fort Wayne man guilty of murdering a family of four in June of 2021 and is recommending he serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

On the sixth day of his trial, 22-year-old Cohen Hancz-Barron was found guilty of four counts of murder after he killed 26-year-old Sarah Zent and 5-year-old Carter Zent, and 3-year-old Ashton Zent, and 2-year-old Aubree Zent. The crime happened on June 2, 2021, in the 2900 block of Gay Street.

Zent family (from left to right): Sarah, Aubree, Ashton, Carter
Zent family (from left to right): Sarah, Aubree, Ashton, Carter(Staff)

In August of 2021, the prosecutor filed a special notice with Judge Fran Gull to request four life sentences without the possibility of parole for Hancz-Barron. The Zent family expressly told the prosecutor they did not want them to pursue the death penalty because they want Hancz-Barron with other inmates in general population, not in isolation on death row.

TRIAL COVERAGE: Jury selected - Day one of trial - Day two of testimony - Day three of testimony - Both sides rest - Man convicted in Zent family murders to be sentenced Friday

After the stabbing in June, probable cause documents say two witnesses who discovered the victims immediately identified the suspect as Hancz-Barron. Investigators then used digital intelligence to track Hancz-Barron to an apartment complex in Lafayette hours after the crime. Detectives say they found he had a bloodied knife and the adult victim’s credit card in his wallet. The documents did not lay out any clear motive for the crime.

He was then taken into custody, and on his way back to Allen County, he reportedly asked the detective in the car if he “will do my time for this case before the time I had on the other case.” Hancz-Barron was serving the remainder of a robbery conviction at a drug rehabilitation center in Tippecanoe County. A warrant was issued for his arrest after he walked away from the facility in April of 2021.

Hancz-Barron’s sentencing is scheduled for August 5.

The media got the chance to talk to Melanie Fields, Sarah Zent’s Mom, prosecutors and the lead homicide detective in the case, they were all overcome with emotion.

“They finally got their justice and to know he can never do this to anyone else ever is just a feeling it’s undescribable just over overwhelming,” Fields said.

“A huge thank you to everybody. All of the community that’s given a thought, a prayer, anything. It hasn’t gone unseen or unfelt. We have felt this every step of the way,” she added.

“They’ve been very patient. They’ve gone through more than they should ever have had to go through and they’ve had to relive every moment of that sitting in this trial. I applaud them for the way they’ve handled themselves,” FWPD Homicide Detective Brian Martin said.

“Again, for the victims’ family, nothing we do in the courtroom eases their pain. We know they’re still suffering. But at least, hopefully, there’s a little bit of relief knowing that the person who did this will be in prison for the rest of his life,” State of Indiana Prosecutor Tom Chaille said.

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