A North Vernon man who was arrested in March 2021 for murder by arson has plead guilty without going to trial.

According to court records, a jury trial has been canceled in the case and a hearing on a motion to enter a plea pursuant to a plea agreement was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday, November 18, in Jennings Circuit Court.

Michael Wayne Hubbard was scheduled to stand trial on November 30, for the murder of Robert L. Head Jr., 47, who was fatally burned after his car was set on fire in May 2019.

Hubbard, 36, of Butlerville, was arrested on March 2, 2021, in connection with Head’s death. The incident occurred at Country Squire Lakes near North Vernon.

Investigators from the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office spent almost two years investigating, gathering evidence and conducting numerous interviews, until they were able to establish probable cause to arrest Hubbard in the case. Based on that investigation, Jennings County Prosecutor Brian Belding filed charges of Murder, a Level 1 felony, and Arson Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury, a Level 2 felony, against Hubbard.

Defense attorneys Aaron Edwards and James Funke each represented Hubbard individually in the past but both have since withdrawn from the case. Attorney Andrew Baldwin was the most recent representation for Hubbard.

On Monday, November 21, court records showed the charge of murder was reduced to a Level 2 felony of voluntary manslaughter. The charge of arson resulting in serious bodily injury was dismissed.

Circuit Judge Murielle S. Bright sentenced Hubbard to 25 years prison with 5 years suspended, 4 and half years executed at the Indiana Department of Corrections with credit for 626 days served and 10 and half years suspended for 5 years supervised probation with Jackson Jennings Community Corrections on home detention with electronic monitoring required. Hubbard must also pay fees and court costs plus $2,705.75 in restitution to the estate Robert Head Jr.