On Friday, prosecutors in a murder trial played a haunting recording of what they say are some of a California woman’s last moments.
65-year-old Mimie Anita Cowen is dead after California’s Superior Court Judge James Cox refused to evict Scott Edmund Pettigrew, 50, a tenant living in Cowen’s house. Cowen asked Judge Cox to evict Pettigrew just days before her murder, which occurred on June 14, 2016.
Cowen was concerned for her own safety, and she filed a request for a restraining order and eviction on June 9. Apparently, she was concerned because Pettigrew was becoming more erratic over time.
“I am being terrorized daily in my own home,” Cowen had said. “Escalating each day. I need help. I need a restraining order.”
Mimie Anita Cowen was found facedown in her own swimming pool, dead around midnight in June 2016. Her body was deeply bruised and bloody, and handfuls of her blond hair had been torn from her scalp, when police found her in her Palm Springs home.
Police were there responding to a call by concerned relatives, who had been on the phone with Cowen when they say they heard Cowen and Pettigrew arguing.
Officers tried to revive Cowen, but she was pronounced dead.
They entered the house and found obvious signs of an struggle, including broken glass, and belongings. Police discovered Pettigrew in the house, lying naked on his bed and “covered in scratches”. He was arrested on scene, facing charges of murder, elder abuse and violation of a protective order.
Officers also found a digital audio recorder under the kitchen table. It had a minute-long recording, which investigators believe was taken on the night of the murder.
“It was a recording of what I believe took place that night,” said Detective Heather Olsen during the preliminary hearing Friday.
On the recording, which was played in court, sounds of a scuffle intermingle with the shouts of a woman, believed to be Cowen.
A male voice, though to be Pettigrew, is unintelligible.
“Stay away from me!” the woman screams. “You b*****d! You b*****d! You b*****!”
Then she yells, “Get out of here! Get out of here! Get off me!”
The recording ends abruptly at that point.
Cowen, who wrote in court documents that she was “scared to do anything except stay away” and that Pettigrew was “intensifying this to keep me in constant fear of him,” was fearful of what Pettigrew would do next.
Cowen was renting a room to Pettigrew , who she apparently knew from work. She had been attempting to help him out after he was evicted form his prior home following an “altercation with a neighbor.”
Cowen accused Pettigrew of refusing to pay rent, stealing food, cutting the batteries out of her phones, pouring water on her computers, and letting his dogs defecate in the house.
After hearing the complaint, Superior Court Judge James Cox told both parties that they would have a court hearing in two weeks in order to organize a permanent solution.
Sadly, Cowen was dead less than a week later.
Pettigrew has denied all charges.
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