A Missouri man was convicted on Thursday after testifying to beating his pregnant wife to death and hiding her naked body. Defendant Beau Rothwell, 31, insisted that he only killed Jennifer Rothwell, 28, in the heat of the moment, or as he reportedly described it, a “red haze.” Jurors still found him guilty of first-degree murder, though his attorney asked for voluntary manslaughter instead, according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Prosecutors described defendant Rothwell as a methodical person in his life, and that his actions during the killing constituted premeditation under the law.
“He deliberated when he got the weapon,” prosecutor Tom Smith reportedly said. “He deliberated when he drew it back. He deliberated when when he brought it down on her head. It was all part of his plan.”
Jennifer was six-weeks pregnant when her husband beat her to death on Nov. 11, 2019.
As described by defense lawyer Charles Barberio, the Rothwells were trying to have a child since 2018. This initially did not pan out, so Beau had an extramarital affair in 2019. It was in October of that year, however, that they learned Jennifer was pregnant.
Beau Rothwell testified Thursday that he and Jennifer got into an argument about his affair. In his version of events, he maintained that he kept the identity of the other woman a secret, so Jennifer Rothwell told him that he could keep the “mystery bitch,” and she asserted that she was pregnant from another man. A paternity test reportedly determined Beau was indeed the father, but he testified that at the time of the killing, he hit Jennifer in the head from the behind using a mallet. In his reported account, he followed her as she stumbled toward the garage, and he struck her again, this time fatally.
“In the heat of everything, I hit her again,” he said. “I believe I cracked her skull. She fell unconscious and fell down the stairs.”
Rothwell testified to cleaning up the crime scene, and dumping her naked body in the woods. He said he could not explain why he stripped the body, beyond noting that he got the idea from crime shows on TV about hiding evidence. He abandoned her car to make it seem like Jennifer had vehicle trouble on the way to work, and he texted her phone to make it seem like he was worried for her. He even joined in search parties with her family and work colleagues.
But police uncovered the killing after finding bottles of bleach at the time, as well as Jennifer’s blood, still wet and staining a carpet.
Sentencing is set for July 8. Jurors also found him guilty of tampering with evidence, and abandonment of a corpse.
[Booking photo of Beau Rothwell, and picture of Jennifer Rothwell via St. Louis County Police Department]
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