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Joshua Cottrell testifies

01:22 PM EST on Friday, January 28, 2005

Joshua Cottrell told jurors in his own words how and why he killed Richie Phillips in June 2003, saying Phillips came at him with physical force and a yearning for sex. Cottrell said he had to protect himself.

“Next thing I know, he grabbed my by the back of my head by my hair and he tried to kiss me. Uh, I pulled back and he pulled my head down towards his crotch.”

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Joshua Cottrell says Richie Phillips came into his motel room uninvited on June 17 of 2003 after Cottrell drove Phillips around Elizabethtown looking for a job.

Cottrell says he asked Phillips several times to leave. Cottrell says Phillips was trying to rape him. Cottrell demonstrated on the stand how he put Phillips in a headlock, pulling him to the floor.

Don Ruark / WHAS11 photojournalist

Joshua Cottrell demonstrates the headlock he used on Richie Phillips

“I started hitting him as hard as I could, as many times as I could,” Cottrell said. “He kept pulling at me, tugging at me. Uh, a little bit afterwards he quit fighting with me so I pushed myself off of him and I told him, ‘You get the F outta here.’”

Cottrell says he walked out of the room and waited for Phillips to leave.

“As far as I was concerned, the fight was over with… I was embarrassed and disgusted by everything. I was hyped up. I expected him to either come out and keep fighting or apologize and just leave.”

Cottrell says he say Phillips on a bed by the floor on all fours and to him, it looked as if Phillips was getting up. When Cottrell realized Phillips was dead, he says he panicked, putting Phillips’s body in a suitcase to get him out of sight. Cottrell says he bought the suitcase days earlier to haul his clothes and other belongings around as he drifted between motel rooms and friends’ houses.

When asked by his lawyer if he intended to kill Phillips, Cottrell said, “I was scared and I was mad when he grabbed me. But if he hadn’t of grabbed me, I wouldn’t of hit him. I just wanted the whole thing to stop. I wanted him out of my motel room… I never would’ve caused his death.”

Cottrell says he was too scared and too panicked to call 911, not sure what he would tell them.

Web story produced by Jay Ditzer.

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