ELIZABETHTOWN – A Kentucky jury handed down a dual conviction in the case of Josh Cottrell, 23, on received a second-degree manslaughter conviction along with two other related convictions for theft by unlawful taking of $300 and tampering with evidence in the murder of a 36-year-old Elizabethtown man, Guinn Richard (Richie) Phillips. The Hardin County jury returned the verdicts on February 1.
The Kentucky Fairness Alliance (KFA) issued a press release in which Andrea Hildebran, Executive Director of KFA, noted, "This is a disappointing and disturbing verdict against a man who killed a person, stuffed his body in a suitcase, and dumped it in a lake."
Commenting on the ‘gay-panic’ defense utilized by Cottrell’s defense,
Hildebran continued, "By appealing to negative stereotypes rather than logic, the defense asked the jury to join them in condemning Richie Phillips for being gay. Bias against gay-people has not only ended the life of Richie Phillips, it has done violence to the Kentucky system of justice."
The jury’s decision eliminates the possibility of the death penalty in the case, but guidelines may result in stiff penalties for Cottrell due to his probably qualification for status as a persistent felony offender due to previous convictions on car theft charges. If he is found to be “persistent,” the sentence length could double resulting in 20 years possible sentence for the manslaughter charge and 10 years each for the other two charges.
The Kentucky Fairness Alliance seeks to advance equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people through leadership development, public education, and by encouraging participation in the democratic process. Visit their Web site at http://www.fairness.org/ or call their Lousville office at (502) 893-0788.