A man testifying in the murder trial of Kentucky resident Joshua Cottrell, who is charged with killing a gay man and stuffing his body into a suitcase, said the defendant warned that he would "cold-cock" the victim if he ever made a sexual advance toward him. Robert DeWitt, a mutual friend of Cottrell and the victim, Richie Phillips, testified Thursday that he told Cottrell that Phillips was attracted to him. Cottrell, 23, is charged with killing Phillips in an Elizabethtown motel room in June 2003. Phillips's body was found stuffed in the suitcase floating in Rough River Lake in Breckinridge County, eight days after Phillips's family reported him missing.
Prosecutor Susan Streible asked DeWitt on Thursday whether Cottrell ever made any comment about what he would do to Phillips if he ever made a pass at him. "He said he would knock him out or cold-cock him," DeWitt replied. DeWitt also testified that he had never seen Phillips behave in an aggressive manner.
Also testifying Thursday was April Wagner, a friend of Cottrell who identified the suitcase Phillips's body was found in as "looking like" a set Cottrell had purchased in early June 2003. Wagner, who said she continued to correspond with Cottrell as he awaited trial, gave Cottrell a ride to his motel the day he bought the luggage, adding that was several days before Phillips went missing.