Killer Confesses He Hates Gays, Prosecutor Refuses Hate-Crime Charge

Tue. August 26, 2003 12:00 AM by

Hardinsburg, Kentucky - A Kentucky man charged in the killing of a gay acquaintance confessed to his relatives that he murdered the victim because he hates homosexuals, but the prosecutor in the case a hate-crime charge is not necessary.

Josh Cottrell is accused of strangling Guinn "Richie" Phillips with a belt and then stuffing Phillips' body in a suitcase. The suitcase with Phillips' body in it was later found floating in Rough River lake.

Cottrell and Phillips had known each other for about three years.

After Cottrell's arrest on June 27, his aunt, Wendy McAnly, told state police that Cottrell had confessed to the crime more than a week earlier, but that family members initially had not believed him.

Cottrell, according to his aunt, said that he had invited Phillips to a motel room where he was staying the night of the killing. Cottrell asked Phillips whether he liked him without his shirt on, and when Phillips said yes and touched him, Cottrell allegedly told his aunt that he "then put him in a headlock and choked him."

In addition, a cousin told Kentucky State Police that Cottrell said he had planned to kill Phillips because Phillips was gay.

Cottrell, 22, is in the Breckinridge County jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond. He has been indicted on charges of murder, robbery, tampering with physical evidence and being a persistent felon. But, Commonwealth's Attorney Kenton Smith says that he does not plan to pursue hate-crime charges against him. Smith said that the murder charge was sufficient to ensure Cottrell would not offend again.

Hate-crime laws in Kentucky include those committed against gays and lesbians. Under the law that took effect July 14, 2000, if a judge determines at sentencing that bias against the victim's race, color, national origin, sexual orientation or religion was a "primary factor" in committing the offense, that fact can be used to deny probation or parole.

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