(Elizabethtown, Kentucky) A Kentucky man who
murdered and stuffed the body of a gay man into a suitcase before tossing it
into a lake was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years behind bars.
Joshua Cottrell, 23, had confessed to the killing
but claimed it was the result of gay rage after Richie Phillips, 36, "came
on to him" in Cottrell's motel room.
The suitcase containing Phillip's body was found
floating in Rough River Lake last June by two fishermen.
Earlier this month a jury found Cottrell guilty
of manslaughter not murder as the prosecution had sought. (story)
The jury recommended that Cottrell be sentenced
to 30 years in prison - 20 for the manslaughter conviction and another 10 for
theft and evidence tampering, but state law limited Hardin County Circuit Judge
Kelly Easton to sentencing Cottrell to a maximum of 20 years on the convictions.
Throughout the trial Cottrell's defense painted
the accused as being the real victim in the case.
"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."
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
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 hi
Cottrell will be eligible for parole in 2 1/2