Cape Cod, MA

Fashion writer Christa Worthington, 46, was found murdered in her Truro, MA home on January 6th, 2002. She was naked from the waist down and had a stab wound to her chest. She was found lying in a pool of blood with her then 2 year old daughter Ava clutching onto her. Ava was unharmed. It took over 3 years for the local police to make an arrest. This arrest was only made after taking DNA samples of 75 different men that Ms. Worthington was somehow associated with. Police knew that they had DNA from someone who had sex with Ms. Worthington before her death. Among the men they gathered samples from were ex-boyfriends, the father of her child and Christopher McCowen. They got a match. Christopher McCowen, 33, was charged with first degree murder, aggravated rape and aggravated burglary on April 15, 2005, more that a year after he voluntarily submitted his DNA sample to police. The lab where they do the DNA testing was apparently very bogged down and didn’t get to the samples right away. McCowen maintained his innocence from the very beginning. He was the trash collector for Worthington and her neighbors.

The jury selection began in mid October 2006 with the trial following. The jurors told the judge they were deadlocked after 5 days of deliberating at which time he sequestered them to a local hotel. A female juror was dismissed from the jury after making phone calls to her boyfriend and mentioning facts about the case and the police on the case on a tapped phone line in her hotel room. An alternate was selected to step in where the jurors began deliberation again. Two days later, November 16, 2006, they came out with the decision of guilty on all counts. Sentencing commenced later in the day where McCowen was sentenced to life in prison without parole. In Massachusetts, anyone who is convicted of first degree murder is automatically entitled to an appeal. The appeal was submitted the same day. At the sentencing, McCowen addressed the courtroom and family of Christa Worthington expressing his sorrow to them but maintaining his innocence.

Could Christopher McCowen be innocent? Why was his DNA on Christa Worthington? From the beginning, McCowen reportedly told police that he did not kill her, but a friend of his did, Jeremy Frazier. But it wasn’t Frazier’s DNA on Christa Worthington, it was McCowen’s. Then after the very long Examination of McCowen, he allegedly did not confess to the murder, but told events of the murder and that his friend Jeremy Frazier murdered Worthington. The catch . . .they did not tape the interrogation. When the police were asked why they didn’t have the tape recorder running during his interrogation, they stated that McCowen didn’t want it to be taped. Huh? Aren’t they the police? Another point to look at in this case is Christopher McCowen’s mentality. He is said to have a very low IQ. His own attorney said that McCowen does understand what’s going on, but he just wants to go home; much like a child. The defense called in an expert witness of false confessions to show what the intense interrogation could have felt like for McCowen and how he could have confused events. McCowen also was well liked for this crime because of some prior arrests on his record. The defense played the race card as well, stating that they didn’t look very hard at Frazier, a white man, and instead remained focused on McCowen, an African-American.

Truth is, this case was a mess from the beginning. From taking so long to do the DNA testing, the Barnstable DA making statements about Worthington’s sexuality and then being asked to remove himself from the case, to a juror who gets thrown off just as they are at a deadlock. Seems a bit fishy to me. Do I think he is guilty? I honestly don’t know. When the verdict came down he reminded me a little boy. He had a single tear flowing down his cheek as he kept shaking his head “no.” I felt terribly bad for him in that moment. But how can you not feel for the little girl, Ava, now 7 years old, who has no mother. Did he do it? I just don’t know, but I am glad I wasn’t on that jury and I will be waiting to see what happens with the appeal.

Kelly Trott

11/16/06

http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/11/16/a_timeline_of_events_in_the_murder_of_christa_worthington/

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/04/15/national/main688478.shtml

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