EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSGUILTY VERDICT
from Eyewitness News Online
Jury Finds Jesse Blevins Guilty Of Voluntary Manslaughter
Reported by: Dave Benton
Videographer: Chris Mazivanhanga
Web Producer: Dave Benton, Darrah Wilcox
Also Contributing: Dan Matics, Darrah Wilcox, Bethany Simmons
Reported: Jan. 18, 2012 10:38 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 26, 2012 5:55 PM EST
Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia
Judge Alfred Ferguson read the verdict about noon Thursday. "The jury agrees and find the defendant Jesse Blevins guilty of the crime of voluntary manslaughter."
It wasn't a first degree murder conviction that the state was going for, but assistant prosecutor Sean Hammers says it's fair. He says, "I consider it a just verdict, because I really think they looked at all the evidence."
It wasn't the verdict the defense wanted either. Defense attorney Courtenay Craig says, "We're disappointed that he was convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The testimony said it was unintentional. It was self-defense." He says they will definitely appeal the verdict.
Eyewitness News talked to Jesse Blevins as he was being lead out of the courtroom. "Did you think the jury was going to find you not guilty?" He replied, "Yes I did." When asked, "Why?", Blevins says, "I'm an innocent man."
The jury found at least some guilt to put on Jesse Blevins. Voluntary manslaughter means an intentional killing was committed in the heat of passion. Blevins' family was not happy with today's outcome. His mom, Geisha Miller, says, "Justice was not served today."
Eyewitness News also spoke exclusively to Jesse Blevins' dad about his relationship with Elizabeth Cotton. He says, "I tried everything I could try to get him out of it, but there's just nothing you could do. I did everything in my power, and it didn't work."
Ultimately, neither Blevins or Cotton could walk away from the tumultuous relationship, and each family is grieving their own losses.
Blevins faces three to 15 years for voluntary manslaughter, and up to another five for the concealment of Elizabeth Cotton's body after she died.
Sentencing will be in March.
A Cabell county jury has found Jesse Blevins guilty of voluntary manslaughter and concealment of a body. Blevins has been on trial for the last week, accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Cotton, during an altercation in July of 2009. It happened at his father's home located on Jackson Avenue in Huntington. The only one home at the time was Blevins and Cottons' 3-year old son, who was sleeping in another room.
Blevins had claimed self defense in the murder, but prosecutors say that's hard to believe.
Wednesday 5:00 p.m.
The jury has been sent home for the evening and will reconvene to continue deliberations Thursday at 9:00 a.m.
Blevins is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, Elizabeth Cotton, during an altercation two years ago at his father's house on Jackson Avenue. Nobody was home at the time except their three year old son, who was asleep in the other room. Wednesday morning, the prosecution and defense gave their closing arguments. Then the case went to the jury Wednesday afternoon at 12:10 pm.
Assistant Prosecutor Sean Hammers began closing arguments at 10:50 am. "This death did not happen because of something Elizabeth Cotton did. Do you think what he did was justified? It was not. Knife wounds to her head and hand. The defense wants you to believe that after all these years of punching and slapping each other, that she would come to him with a knife, that's not reasonable.
If he was defending his own life, why did he make it look like nothing happened? He was only truthful when he had to be. He never states anything in police interview, shortly after murder, that sounded like he was afraid for his life."
Hammers showed jury photos of Cotton's wounds and said, "In what point when he inflicted these injuries on her head was he in fear for his life?"
Hammers showed photos of Blevins, shortly after the murder that showed no major wounds and said, "No significant injuries whatsoever."
"No question they had disagreements and got violent at times. As his father said, Jesse was not himself when he was with Elizabeth. Violence was his true colors... when he brutally murdered her that night. He had no right to do to her what he did.
If she was such a threat, why did he continue to stay with her? Twenty hours passed by until he told someone about it.
Only two people witnessed what happened and one of them is dead. The wounds shown from the photos should tell you he's guilty. What do you think Elizabeth Cotton would've said about the defendant? She'd have said he wanted her dead."
Defense attorney Courtenay Craig gave his closing statements at 11:18 am.
"You didn't hear one witness say it wasn't self-defense. Where is it that he came up with the plan to kill her... there wasn't one. If you start looking at this whole case, State has upward road to go. Even Detective Cass McMillan stated Blevins was honest during his interview after the killing, but had to charge him with 1st degree murder because nobody else witnessed the killing.
Did Jesse deny it happened? No. But he did say he had to get her off him before she killed him. He ran back to the bathroom to get away from her. I don't see any pre-meditation there. Not a single witness came in here and told you it happened any other way than what Jesse told you.
Blevins isn't guilty, he didn't pre-meditate, he didn't show malice and he didn't intentionally kill her. You got nothing but reasonable doubt all over this.
Nobody wins in this case, but we should start the healing by getting the verdict right."
Jesse Blevins took the stand Tuesday in his own murder trial in Cabell County. During nearly two hours of testimony, Blevins recounted the ups and downs of his relationship with Elizabeth Cotton. He says he called police about 10 to 12 times on her over about three years. He testified that Cotton broke her hand on two separate occasions when she hit him.
Eyewitness News spoke exclusively with Blevins' mother, Geisha Miller. Miller says, "I stand by Jesse and his story never changed since day one. I'm proud he is my son."
Prosecutors say Blevins planned to stab Cotton after he got a knife from a friend earlier that day. Blevins and the defense team are standing by their case of self-defense.
Defense attorney Courtenay Craig asked Blevins, "Is there anything you want to tell this jury"? Blevins replied, "I'm very sorry it happened. I wish it never did."
Craig says, "Is there anything you want to tell Elizabeth or her family"? Blevins says, "I'm very sorry."
"But did you do what you did in self-defense", Craig asked. Blevins answered, "Yes I did."
The jury will get instructions Wednesday morning and both sides will present their closing arguments when the trial resumes at 10:00 a.m. and the case could go to the jury by noon.
The state has rested its case Friday in the Jesse Blevins murder trial. The defense called several police officers as their first witnesses. They testified that they had several "run-ins" with Elizabeth Cotton and she had physically assaulted them before.
The defense is trying to prove Blevins stabbed Cotton in self-defense. They acknowledge Blevins did stab Cotton and hide the body, but they say he had a legitimate fear for his safety and life that night.
He is expected to take the stand in his own defense. The trial will continue Tuesday in Judge Alfred Ferguson's courtroom.
Thursday was the second day of Jesse Blevins' murder trial in Cabell County.
He's accused of stabbing Elizabeth Cotton the neck, and then hiding her body in a basement. Huntington police officer John Franklin says they responded to the Jackson Avenue home July 28,2009. He testified another officer asked Blevins where his girlfriend was. He says Blevins replied "In the basement'. When asked what she was doing there, he says Blevins replied, 'She's dead.'"
They found the body wrapped in blankets and trash bags and the jury got the see some pretty graphic images of that crime scene today.
The trial continues Friday.
A man accused of stabbing his former girlfriend to death began Wednesday in Cabell County Circuit Court. Jesse Blevins is on trial for the murder of Elizabeth Cotton.
Jury selection began Wednesday morning followed by opening arguments and three witnesses for the prosecution took the stand.
Police say Blevins told them the couple argued over new love interests. the fight became physical with Cotton threatening Blevins with a knife and eventually he stabbed her in the neck with another knife.
Police say Blevins placed cotton's body in garbage bags and wrapped it in a blanket, then hid the body in a basement.
David Frye, Blevins' friend told the jury Jesse admitted to killing Cotton. "My first reaction was oh hell no Jesse, you sure you killed her?"
Two police officers also took the stand and said when they approached Blevins about Cotton's whereabouts, he said, "In the basement... dead."
Day two of the trial will begin Thursday morning, 9:00 in Circuit Court.
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