Indiana State Police Trooper Chris Wright helps Rockville triple murder suspect Chad A. Cottrell out of a Parke County Sheriff's vehicle for his arraignment regarding the murders on Wednesday afternoon.
"God save your soul," was the only statement uttered from an individual within a group of spectators that attended the arraignment of Chad Allan Cottrell.
An orange-suited and shackled Cottrell, 35, made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon since being extradited back to Indiana. Cottrell is the accused of murdering his wife and two stepdaughters at his residence at 2158 Wimmer Rd., Rockville.
Cottrell sat stone-faced and collected while Judge Sam Swaim read the charges and penalties that will be brought against him: three counts of murder, each punishable by 45-65 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Cottrell simply said he understood the charges and penalties.
Parke County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Cvengros filed the probable cause statement for three counts of murder on Oct. 31. The first count is for Trisha R. Cottrell, 29. The second count is for Brittany M. Williams, 12. The third count is for Victoria L. Williams, 10.
Judge Swaim entered a preliminary plea of "not guilty" for Cottrell.
During a Wednesday morning press conference, Cvengros was asked about the possibility of pursuing the death penalty for Cottrell. He stated that, "In my opinion he qualifies for (the death penalty). Out of respect for the victim's family I am not going to make that decision until I have a chance to sit down with them and fully discuss that issue."
The cause of death has not been released, but the probable cause affidavit includes the line, "The cause of death on all three was believed to be gunshot wounds." Parke County Sheriff Charles Bollinger would not confirm the statement.
The motive behind the murders also remains undisclosed at this point. Bollinger said, "We have to make sure that the integrity of this case remains tight."
According to Bollinger, Cottrell has been cooperative in the investigation and has made a statement. He would not state whether or not Cottrell has admitted to the murders or not.
As the investigation continues, authorities are trying to track e-mails in order to put together a timeline of the family's movements to determine the time of the murders. At this time, the murders are assumed to have taken place on Oct. 29 or 30.
The probable cause affidavit states that Parke County Sheriff Deputy David McHargue spoke with David Chad Keith. Keith stated that Cottrell had left three cell phone messages, one of which said: "I have reached the end of my dusty trail, tell my family I love them, what's left of them." The ties between Keith and Cottrell are unknown at this time.
According to the affidavit, a six year old child that was present during the time of the murders told authorities, "That he heard an argument between Brittany Williams and Chad Cottrell when he heard multiple gunshots in the residence. Chad Cottrell then told the juvenile that he had just shot three deer."
Cottrell is being treated as a maximum security prisoner and an escape risk. He is being held in solitary confinement at the Parke County Jail in Rockville.