INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana man pleaded guilty Thursday to murder in the fatal shooting and stabbing of a fellow Purdue University student in January.
Cody Cousins, 24, of Warsaw changed his plea during a Tippecanoe County court hearing in Lafayette. He has been jailed without bond since his arrest soon after the Jan. 21 attack that left 21-year-old Andrew Boldt of West Bend, Wisconsin, dead inside a basement classroom filled with students on the West Lafayette campus. Cousins and Boldt were both electrical engineering students at the time of the slaying.
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington said that Cousins admitted in court Thursday that he had gone to the campus with a handgun and a knife intending to kill Boldt, knowing where Boldt would be, and that he had used those weapons to kill him. Harrington did not ask why Cousins killed Boldt, only whether he did.
No motive for the killing has ever been given and does not have to be proved in Indiana, said Lafayette attorney Kirk Freeman, who is defending Cousins. He did say, however, that a motive could come out at the sentencing hearing.
Freeman filed a formal notice in May of his intention to use the defense of mental disease or defect. When Tippecanoe Superior Court Judge Thomas Busch asked Cousins at a hearing a couple of weeks before that notice was filed whether he was under the influence of alcohol or drugs that might impede his ability to participate in his defense, Cousins replied that he has been prescribed medication to control his moods and treat schizophrenia.
Freeman said he now intends to seek a verdict of guilty but mentally ill at the sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for Sept. 19. If Busch finds Cousins guilty but mentally ill, the Indiana Department of Correction would assign him to mental health treatment and he would serve the remainder of his sentence if he is pronounced cured.
Freeman declined to say why Cousins changed his plea but said that subject would likely come up at the sentencing hearing. He said unlike the insanity defense, where a person doesn't realize what he or she is doing is wrong, a person who pleads guilty but mentally ill is capable of making that distinction.
Freeman also said that being mentally ill did not mean Cousins would not understand what was happening in court.
"Nobody is claiming Mr. Cousins was incompetent to stand trial," he said.
Cousins has been examined by three mental health experts appointed by the judge, and Freeman said he has subpoenaed them for the sentencing hearing.