A Columbus man was sentenced to 18 years to life in prison Tuesday after entering a guilty plea to a murder charge in connection to the death of a Columbus woman whose body was found in Alum Creek State Park in July 2019.
John D. C. Bartholomew, 24, appeared in Delaware County Common Pleas Court Tuesday afternoon for a change of plea and sentencing hearing. Bartholomew initially pleaded not guilty to two aggravated murder charges, first-degree felonies; one count of robbery, a third-degree felony; two counts of tampering with evidence, third-degree felonies; and one count of abuse of a corpse, a fifth-degree felony, but on Tuesday, Delaware County First Assistant Prosecutor Mark Sleeper laid out the terms of the plea agreement.
Sleeper said Bartholomew agreed to enter a guilty plea to a count of murder, a first-degree felony, and a guilty plea to the fifth-degree felony abuse of a corpse charge. As part of the agreement, the remaining charges would be dropped. Sleeper noted the murder charge would carry a gun specification, adding a mandatory three years to any prison sentence. Bartholomew would also be required to pay $600.75 in restitution.
Common Pleas Judge James P. Schuck discussed the terms of the agreement with Bartholomew, who agreed and signed the change of plea documentation.
Sleeper then outlined for Schuck the basis for of the charges. He said on July 3, Bartholomew picked up Brittany D. McDowell, a Columbus resident. Sleeper said an argument broke out between McDowell and Bartholomew, and Bartholomew shot McDowell in the head with a .22 caliber pistol before shooting her in the head again with a 9 millimeter pistol, killing her.
Sleeper said Bartholomew drove McDowell’s body to Alum Creek State Park where he dug a shallow grave before stripping McDowell naked and burying her. The body was discovered on the Fourth of July by an Ohio Department of Natural Resources officer patrolling the area.
Delaware Municipal Court documents show that Bartholomew told police that McDowell was a prostitute, and they had had sex before the argument started about payment and he shot her.
“Brittany McDowell’s life was not any less valuable or had any less worth because she made some poor or difficult life choices,” Sleeper said. “I don’t want that to get lost in the shuffle here today.”
Before issuing a sentence, Schuck gave McDowell’s family members in attendance a chance to speak. McDowell’s father, Van Allen, delivered a short statement to the court.
“We all loved Brittany, and we miss her a lot,” Allen said. “We didn’t have time to tell her all this, how much we loved her. The worst thing you can do to somebody is kill them. It’s a vile insult to a person. We miss her a lot.”
Sleeper said no other members of the family wished to make a statement.
Bartholomew’s attorney, Mark C. Collins, said that shortly after Bartholomew’s arrest and indictment, Bartholomew told Collins that he wanted to take responsibility for what he had done.
Bartholomew himself made a statement before Schuck handed down the sentence.
“I’m extremely sorry,” Bartholomew said. “Not only for her loss of life but for all the pain…”
Bartholomew also apologized to his family for “everything that’s gone on.”
Schuck said he believed that Bartholomew was genuinely remorseful and sincere.
Schuck sentenced Bartholomew to 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge, as well as the mandatory three years for the gun specification. Schuck ordered that Bartholomew serve six months in prison for the abuse of a corpse charge, but he stipulated that those six months will be served concurrent to the other charge.
Schuck ordered that Bartholomew pay the restitution amount of $600.75, which prosecutors said was for McDowell’s funeral, and said that while Bartholomew is in prison, he will not be eligible for earned credit to reduce his sentence or early release.
Schuck credited Bartholomew the 246 days he spent in the Delaware County Jail since his arrest in July.
Bartholomew was in the Delaware County Jail Tuesday afternoon awaiting transportation to prison.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.