“In my heart, she got justice today,” man pleads guilty to Evansville murder on trial start date

“In my heart, she got justice today,” man pleads guilty to Evansville murder on trial start date
Published: Sep. 18, 2023 at 10:11 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - A murder trial that was supposed to start Monday will no longer happen.

Court officials say Jean Holland pleaded guilty as charged in the murder of Kayla Warner.

Kayla was 23-years-old when she was found murdered inside of her apartment.

It’s been almost two years since that day, and her mother, Jennifer Rogers says that hurt hasn’t left.

“She made me a mom. She had a personality out of this world. She was a great mother. She was a great sister,” says Rogers, “she loved unconditionally, and she loved so deeply, when she loved you, there was no doubt that she loved you. She would do anything for you.”

Officers say Warner was found stabbed to death at her apartment on Van Park Boulevard in November of 2021. It’s a day Rogers remembers clearly.

“I answer the phone. I get told what happened, and I’m begging him to tell me it’s a lie. I need him to tell me that he’s lying to me, and I jumped straight up out of bed and I dropped to my knees and I start screaming,” says Rogers.

That hurt is a feeling shared by the rest of the family, including her aunt Teresa Warner.

“She was a very very very big part of all of our lives,” says Teresa.

On Monday, a glimpse of closure in what’s been the hardest part of each of their lives.

Jean Holland pleaded guilty to all three counts he was facing: murder, theft, and obstruction of justice.

“22 months we’ve dealt with this. It was something we came to an agreement as a family, and it’s something that I can settle with,” says Rogers.

“Every time it’s been pushed off, it’s like we’ve been holding our breath, waiting to get into the ‘after’ of it,” says Teresa.

What’s important, according to Rogers, is that Holland can never do this to anybody else.

As she put it, “no other little girl, no other parent will lose their child because of him.”

[Previous: Murder trial delayed after suspect rethinks representing himself]

Holland’s trial was previously delayed after he decided not to represent himself.

Officials say Holland pleaded guilty Monday to murder, theft, and obstruction of justice. He’ll be sentenced to 45 years in prison.

“45 years is a long time. To be quite honest, nothing will ever be “justice as served,” because the only justice is bringing her back, and that will never happen. Justice will never be served in my mind, but in my heart, she got justice today,” says Rogers.

The official sentencing is set for October 13.