Man sentenced in murder of former “Food Network” contestant, husband and unborn child

A man pleaded guilty Thursday on charges he murdered, dismembered and attempted to burn remains of a newlywed couple and their unborn child in 2015 in the North Carolina mountains.

In a plea deal allowing him to avoid the death penalty, 37-year-old Robert Joseph Owens will serve at least 60 years in prison for the murders of Cristie and Joseph Codd outside their home in Leicester, west of Asheville, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Owens was arrested in March 2015 after telling investigators he accidentally ran over the couple, who were his neighbors, with his truck. The Citizen-Times reported Owens then dismembered both of their bodies and attempted to burn them in a wood stove at a mobile home on his property.

Owens wanted to make the killings appear as a robbery, so he broke into the couple’s home and stole some of their belongings before selling some of the items.

The Citizen-Times reported attorneys initially sought the death penalty against Owens. In his plea deal, the Leicester native pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of dismembering bodies, reported WNCN North Carolina.

Cristie and Joseph Codd had previously worked in the film industry, the Citizen-Times reported. Cristie Todd, a chef, was previously a contestant on season eight of the Food Network’s “Food Network Star.” Joseph Codd also worked in handling cameras and other equipment.

LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS