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Jury Rejects Murder Verdict In Gay Slaying
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: February 1, 2005  7:32 pm. ET



(Louisville, Kentucky) A man who admitted beating and strangling to death a gay man and then stuffing his body into a suitcase and dumping it in a lake has been found guilty of manslaughter not murder as the prosecution had sought.

Joshua Cottrell, 23, showed no emotion as the verdict was read.  The jury also found him guilty of theft by unlawful taking of greater than $300 and tampering with physical evidence.  

Jurors deliberated for nearly nine hours returning with their verdict late Monday night.

Throughout the trial Cottrell's defense painted the accused as being a victim who killed Richie Phillips, 36, in Cottrell's Elizabethtown motel room after Phillips made an unwanted sexual advance on him.

"This kid is not a killer," defense attorney Scott Drabenstadt said in closing arguments. "This kid is not a robber. Yes, he did some very inappropriate things with the body. ... But what set it all in motion, he was privileged to do. What set it in motion were the actions of a 36-year-old man."

Drabenstadt said it was Phillips' actions that "led to a chain of events that caused his death." Drabenstadt said that Cottrell hit Phillips as hard as he could, as many times as he could, and would do it again if given the chance. It was his rights Drabenstadt told the jury because under Kentucky law he was entitled to fight back to protect himself from being raped or sodomized, using deadly force if necessary.

But, prosecutor Chris Shaw said in his closing statements that Cottrell harbored a "steaming anger" toward gay men and lured Phillips to his motel room to kill him.

Shaw said Cottrell's "intent all along was to kill," and dispose of the body in a "cold, calculated" scheme to "get away with murder."

During the trial Cottrell's adoptive aunt, Wendy Cottrell McAnly testified that Cottrell confessed to her that he had planned Phillips' murder.

McAnly said her nephew told her that he killed Phillips on purpose and that he had lured Phillips into his motel room where he hit him, and then strangled him with a duffel bag. (story)

The suitcase containing Phillips' was found floating on Rough River Lake last June by two fishermen.

Shaw had sought a murder conviction which would carry the death penalty.  The jury gave Cottrell the lightest verdict it could. The 12 jurors could have found him guilty of murder, reckless homicide, or manslaughter.

Neither the prosecution nor Phillip's family would comment on the verdict. The sentencing phase of the trial begins on Wednesday.

©365Gay.com 2005









 


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