Following a three-day trial, it took the jury only 30 minutes to find Jeremy B. Cottrell guilty of the brutal murder of Annette Lowery and their unborn child. The 37-year-old Washington Court House man was sentenced Friday morning to two consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
The trial that began Tuesday in Fayette County Common Pleas Court and concluded Thursday afternoon included graphic and disturbing images from the March 3 stabbing murder that occurred at the City Motel in Washington Court House.
Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade tried the case for the state, Cottrell was represented by Thomas Arrington, and key testimony was given by investigator Det. Mike Warnecke of the Washington Police Department.
Cottrell and the 38-year-old Lowery, also of Washington C.H., had been staying at the motel, located at 1524 Washington Ave., for at least a couple of days, according to authorities. Lowery’s body was found when a motel staff member came to the room to inform the two that it was the motel’s check-out time. By that time, Cottrell had already left the motel.
Testimony during the trial revealed that Lowery — who at the time was approximately five months pregnant — was beaten and tortured by Cottrell before she was stabbed multiple times and her throat was cut. Photos of the gruesome injuries were presented as evidence.
“We know that they were in a relationship,” said Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade when asked about a possible motive. “It was later determined that it was (Cottrell’s) unborn son. We know that (Lowery) knew she was pregnant. I do not know if he knew she was pregnant, that never became clear. But we could certainly hypothesize that the topic of the pregnancy or something of that nature came into play when the murder occurred.”
Cottrell was convicted of two counts of aggravated murder for purposefully causing the death of Lowery while he was in the process of committing the offense of kidnapping and for the unlawful termination of Lowery’s pregnancy while he was committing the offense of kidnapping.
“Mr. Cottrell, you slaughtered her like we slaughter livestock,” Common Pleas Court Judge Steven Beathard said Friday as he spoke to the defendant during the sentencing hearing. “The court also finds that you showed no remorse. I watched you closely during the trial. You looked at and studied every image, every graphic image of what you did to Ms. Lowery, and not one reaction whatsoever. Never. You’ve never taken responsibility for what you did.
“On the record last week, you indicated that you were going to suggest to the court that the jury be able to consider the charge of manslaughter, a lesser charge that implies some crime of passion. And then at the beginning of the trial, you announced that you were not pursuing that, and instead your defense challenged the science that was presented to the jury and attacked the investigation by law enforcement, and suggested to that jury that some unknown person committed this crime. And while the jury did not know that, the court considers that another indication that you have no remorse and you’ve never taken any responsibility for what you did.”
Following the sentencing hearing, Weade told the Record-Herald that the 30-minute jury deliberation that resulted in a conviction was “very quick for an aggravated murder case or very serious charge.”
“I think what played into that was it was good work by the police department, and when you sat back and looked at it, the facts spoke for themselves,” Weade said. “While it took a lot of time to get all of the facts in, when the picture was painted in the end, it could only point to (Cottrell) being the murderer. I think that the jurors put that together pretty quickly. There were no other suspects. There was no other evidence that anybody else was involved. My heart goes out to the family of Annette.”
Prior to the sentencing on Friday, Annette’s father, William Lowery, thanked the judge, the prosecutor, police, and anyone else involved in the investigation.
“All I’d like to see now is a sentence that will keep Jeremy off the streets forever,” he said. “No family should have to go through what we’ve been through. The last three days have really boosted my family’s confidence in the justice system.”
Shortly thereafter, the Lowery family’s desire for Cottrell’s lifetime incarceration was realized with the two consecutive life sentences.
After announcing his sentencing decision, Judge Beathard said to Cottrell, “You have not requested any mercy and none will be extended. You will spend the rest of your life under the supervision of the Ohio Department of Corrections. Throughout these proceedings, Mr. Cottrell, from the grand jury to the petit jury to the sentencing today, all of your constitutional rights have been afforded. Notwithstanding the fact that you took the constitutional rights of Annette Lowery away — her right to life and also the life of her unborn child. In our system, we’re looking for truth and justice. The truth was established when the jury found the facts that you were a murderer. As for justice, there can be no complete justice for the victim and her family. Justice for Annette and her child….this is all we could provide.”
With that, Cottrell was remanded to the custody of the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office and would later be sent to prison.
Reach Record-Herald Editor Ryan Carter at 740-313-0352.