PORT CLINTON, Ohio - A Bowling Green man charged with the first murder on Put-In-Bay in decades entered a guilty plea Monday afternoon in Ottawa County.
Zachary Brody, 27, is charged with the murder of 25-year-old Phillip Masterson. Monday, he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and two counts of tampering with evidence.
Masterson, a Westlake native, was reported missing Sunday of Labor Day weekend 2011 while vacationing with friends and family on the island. Relatives found Masterson's body two days later under a tarp in the woods behind the cottage he was renting.
Brody allegedly killed Masterson after the two men got into a fight.
Strangers before that weekend, the two were guests at the same resort, staying in separate cabins near Put-in-Bay, when witnesses said they got into an argument.
Brody said Masterson came to his cottage and started physically and verbally assaulting him. He told the judge he began to fight back.
"I began hitting him, I don't know how many times I hit him. But at some point I realized he wasn't fighting back anymore," said Zachary Brody.
An Ottawa County grand jury charged Brody with murder, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault, two counts of intimidation of a witness and five counts of tampering with evidence. But those charges were lessened in exchange for a guilty plea.
"I think this is a fair and accurate resolution to this case that is a tragedy for both families. Clearly, the Brody family's hearts go out to the Masterson family," said defense attorney William Settina.
"The family's not happy. The plea is never going to get their son back," said Masterson family friend Patrick Farrell.
When Brody is sentenced May 23, the maximum sentence that he could face is 16 years in prison.