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A Missouri man has been found guilty of beating his pregnant wife to death following an argument about his extramarital affairs.
Beau Rothwell, 31, was found guilty on Thursday for the killing of Jennifer Rothwell, 28, according to a statement from the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney. During the three-day trial, Rothwell admitted in court that he hit Jennifer once in the head with a mallet while in a “red haze” at their Creve Couer, Missouri, home on Nov. 11, 2019.
Rothwell claimed he hit her a second time when she tried to flee, something the prosecution said was an admission that the attack was deliberate.
“In the heat of everything, I hit her again,” Rothwell testified, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I believe I cracked her skull, she fell unconscious, and fell down the stairs.”
Rothwell’s account, however, was challenged in court.
“The Medical Examiner’s conclusions and other physical evidence, however, did not support Rothwell’s narrative,” according to the statement. “The Medical Examiner testified that the fatal wound to the right side of the victim’s head was the result of a single blow with a weapon much sturdier than a mallet, such as a baseball bat.”
As previously reported, Beau Rothwell was arrested for tampering with evidence on Nov. 14, 2019 – while his wife was still missing – when surveillance camera captured him buying bleach, carpet cleaner, and gloves on the day of the murder. Authorities also found “evidence of the crime of murder” at the couple’s home, where the carpets were soaked with bleach.
While in custody, the suspect directed investigators toward a wooded area off a highway where they found Jennifer’s naked body on Nov. 18, 2019, resulting in murder charges. According to the Post-Dispatch, Rothwell wrapped his wife’s head in a plastic bag and secured it with duct tape before trying to conceal her in the brush near Troy, Missouri, about one hour north of the couple’s home.
The victim was six weeks pregnant.
Rothwell confessed to abandoning her car so that people would assume she ran into car trouble on her way to work and sent text messages to her phone to appear concerned about her disappearance.
Rothwell went as far as to make a Facebook post, which has since been taken down, appealing for information about his missing wife.
During the trial, Rothwell testified that he and his wife began arguing when he refused to reveal the identity of his paramour, whom Jennifer allegedly referred to as his “mystery bitch,” according to the Post-Dispatch. He also accused the victim of carrying another man’s child, which proved to be false when a postmortem paternity test identified Rothwell as the father.
It was revealed during the investigation that Jennifer used her phone to look up “what to do if your husband is upset you are pregnant” shortly before the murder,
“In his notebook, he listed pros and cons that showed he was deliberating whether to leave his pregnant wife for another woman, but worried that ‘the cost was too high,’” stated the prosecuting attorney’s office. “In a Facebook message to the other woman, he listed three options: break it off with her, divorce his pregnant wife, or wait and hope for a ‘miscarriage or something.’”
“The State argued that Rothwell finally decided that ‘something’ would be to kill his pregnant wife and then stage it as a disappearance.”
Rothwell’s defense denied the state’s claims of premeditation, hoping the jury would convict the defendant on charges of voluntary manslaughter rather than murder in the first degree.
“The state is trying to turn this extramarital affair into some sort of motive or deliberation,” said defense attorney Charles Barberio. “There simply isn’t any evidence that he ever planned to do it.”
Prosecutors also challenged Rothwell’s claims that he initially struck his wife near the upstairs dinner table before she “rolled down the basement steps” following the second blow. They said all of the victim’s blood – which the defendant tried and failed to conceal – was found at the bottom of the basement steps, indicating he “ambushed the victim.”
A St. Louis County jury found him guilty of murder in the first degree, tampering with physical evidence in a felony prosecution, and abandonment of a corpse.
“This is why we do this job,” said Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell. “When we are able to bring justice to a family that has lost a loved one and lost her in such a brutal manner, there is no better feeling in the world. Hopefully, Jennifer can rest in peace, and her family can finally get closure. Justice was served.”
Rothwell is scheduled for sentencing on July 8.
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