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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cody Mark Cousins: Murder by Insanity or Hatred and Drugs?

     Cody Mark Cousins, after graduating from high school in Springsboro, Indiana in 2008, enrolled as an engineering major at Purdue University. While attending classes on the West Lafayette, Indiana campus, Cousins struggled with mental illness and drug abuse. During the summer of 2013, during a 72-hour-stint in a mental ward, a psychiatrist opined that Cousins, already suffering from bipolar disorder, was developing schizophrenia.

     The fact that the university student had been acting aggressively and experiencing hallucinations could have been the result of his use of the drug ecstasy. From August to October 2013, Cousins bought a gram of ecstasy every ten days. During this period he also abused amphetamine. Still, he managed to make the dean's list three times.

     At noon on Tuesday January 21, 2014, Cousins attended a class in the electrical engineering building taught by a 21-year-old teaching assistant from West Bend, Wisconsin named Andrew F. Boldt. During this class, in front of classmates, Cousins pulled out a handgun and shot Boldt five times. As Cousins replaced the empty revolver with a knife, he told the horrified witnesses to call the police. Cousins next stabbed the teaching assistant 19 times then walked out of the classroom.

     Later on the day of Andrew Boldt's murder, police officers booked Cody Cousins into the Tippecanoe County Jail on the charge of first-degree murder. If convicted as charged, Cousins faced up to 65 years in prison. The judge denied him bond and ordered psychiatric evaluation.

     In May 2014, Cousin's attorney filed notice that he planned to plead his client guilty but mentally ill.

     The Cousins murder trial got underway in the summer of 2014. In his opening statement to the jury, Tippecanoe County prosecutor Pat Harrington argued that the defendant, frustrated by his own lack of success, killed the victim out of drug-fueled hatred and envy. "Violent thoughts," Harrington said, "led to violent actions. That's not insanity--that's what happened."

     Defense attorney Kirk Freeman, when it came his turn to address the jury, spoke of his clients's history of insanity and argued that guilty but mentally ill would be an appropriate verdict in this case. The defense attorney pointed out that mental illness ran in the defendant's family.

     According to a prosecution psychiatrist, when the defendant shot and stabbed Andrew Boldt to death, he was not acting pursuant to the symptoms of any form of mental illness. A second medical expert took the stand for the prosecution and said essentially the same thing.

     Following the closing arguments, the jury, in rejecting the insanity defense, found the defendant guilty as charged. The verdict surprised no one.

     Judge Thomas Busch, following testimony from both sides at the convicted man's September 19, 2014 sentencing hearing, sentenced him to 65 years in prison. "This is a crime of hatred," the judge said. "It's also a crime of terror. Cousins chose a place where people were gathered."

     Cousins, given credit for the 242 days he'd already spent in jail, would not be eligible for release until July 22, 2046. That year he would be 54 years old.

     On October 28, 2014, at nine o'clock at night, while being held in a one-man cell in the Orientation Unit of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, Cody Cousins slashed his arms and neck with a sharp instrument. An ambulance crew tried in vain to save the bleeding, unresponsive inmate. A half hour later, medical personnel pronounced the convicted killer dead. 

1 comment:

  1. A notice of mental defect was filed in May of 2014, not a change of plea.

    There was no trial as Cousins pled guilty in August 2014 and was sentenced in September 2014.

    ReplyDelete