Jury finds Beau Rothwell guilty of first degree murder in the murder of his pregnant wife
ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — For three days, 12 jurors were presented with evidence and testimony covering events before and after that cold November night. The hundreds of documents, photographs and reports could not show the intricacies of the Rothwells’ life in its entirety.
The jury will never see what life was like from the eyes of the victim and on April 28, the jury found Beau Rothwell guilty of first degree murder. He will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Beau Rothwell closed his eyes, tilted his head down slightly and exhaled, showing no further emotion as the Honorable Jude Ellen Ribaudo read the verdict in the courtroom.
The jury reached its decision after three hours and twenty minutes of deliberation and found Rothwell guilty on the other two counts against him, tampering with evidence and abandoning a corpse.
Jennifer Rothwell’s family and friends sighed in relief, with some shedding painful tears of joy.
The fate of the rest of Beau Rothwell’s life depended entirely on the stories told in a St. Louis County courtroom this week.
“The last day of Jennifer’s life should have been a good day,” prosecutor Thomas Smith said to open his closing statements on Thursday afternoon. “She had reason to be happy.”
Smith has been building the case all week for the jury to indict Beau Rothwell with first-degree murder, saying evidence shows the defendant deliberately killed his wife months before the night of November 11, 2019.
“He deliberated in July. Talked about the pros and cons. Deliberate in October; ‘wait and see if she miscarries or something.’ He deliberated when he got the gun; when he pulled it out, when he dropped it on his head. He deliberated when he did it again,” Smith told the jury.
The state and defense did not contest the other two charges Beau Rothwell faces at trial. The two lawyers said there was no doubt that Beau Rothwell tampered with evidence and dumped the corpse. But had he planned to kill her?
“Murder in the first, not in the second, not intentional homicide. First degree,” Smith said with a stern face. “She was hit with incredible force…more than once. It fractured his skull. His head was broken off where you can see his brain. What is he doing? Take a garbage bag and put it on his head.
A charge of first degree murder requires intent and carries a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Lead defense attorney Charles Barberio said the first degree charge was an “extension”. It was an overrun from the start. It’s an overshoot now.
Barberio reminded the jury that November morning started like any other day for Beau Rothwell. Barberio said his client started the day by reminding Jennifer Rothwell to enroll in the new health plan they had just chosen to cover her pregnancy.
“Jennifer certainly didn’t deserve it under any circumstances,” Barberio said. “He did not deliberately kill his wife. It’s homicide, but that doesn’t include deliberation.
Approaching the jury, Barberio told them that no witnesses had said anything about Beau Rothwell being abusive, violent or aggressive.
“It all happened like that,” snapped Barberio. “Panic set in and he didn’t make the right choices. He was thinking second by second, fight or flight.
Barberio again reiterated that the crime “was born out of a sudden passion” and “there is no evidence that he ever wanted to kill his wife”.
Learn more about the case here.
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