Man Who Killed Wife, Children Gets Life Sentence

Judge Calls Chad Cottrell 'Worst Of The Worst'

A man who killed his wife and her two daughters in 2005 was sentenced Friday to life without parole on each count.

Chad Cottrell pleaded guilty in March to three counts of murder in the October 2005 slayings of Trisha Cottrell, 29, Brittany Williams, 12, and Victoria Williams, 10.

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Security was tight in the Hamilton County courtroom as the sentencing was handed down. Eight deputies were in the courtroom, along with two bailiffs.

The victims' family wept openly during the proceedings. Hamilton Superior Court Judge William J. Hughes called Cottrell, who had repeatedly asked to be given the death penalty and had admitted molesting both children, the "worst of the worst."

"Because he himself so thoroughly sees death as the preferred sentence, life imprisonment without parole is, beyond any reasonable doubt, the most appropriate sentence for the worst of the worst defendants," Hughes said.

The three victims were slain at their rural home near the western Indiana town of Rockville.The killings took place over a period of eight or more hours overnight.

Cottrell first beat Victoria to death with a bat after he attempted to molest her. He then shot Trisha to death while she was in bed. Brittany was killed last, after she resisted when he tried to molest her.

In a statement before the sentencing, Cottrell said he took full responsibility for his actions.

"I just want to say my mother is a saint. She never molested me in any way or my sister. Neither did my father. They are outstanding parents," he said. "I take responsibility for my actions. I'll pay the price, whatever that is."

Parke County Prosecutor Steve Cvengros said the thought the death penalty would have been appropriate in Cottrell's case.

"In my opinion, death is worse, but the judge's opinion, life without parole is worse," Cvengros said.

Family members said they were surprised with the sentence.

"As a dad and grandfather, my first thought was, 'How many people do you have to kill before you do get the death sentence?'" said Rick Zaikovsky, Trisha's father. "We have … invisible bars on us because we have the burden of our loss, unnecessary loss, to carry with us for the rest of our lives."

Cottrell pleaded guilty as his trial was set to begin in Hamilton County, where it had been moved because of publicity of the killings in Parke County.

After his 2005 arrest, Cottrell told reporters that his wife "got what she deserved" as he headed into court.

Cottrell was arrested in central Minnesota Nov. 1, 2005, after he failed to pay for fuel at a service station and was chased by police.