‘It haunts me every day’ | Rothwell weeps while recalling marriage, pregnant wife’s murder
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - All eyes were on 29-year-old Beau Rothwell who is on trial for killing his wife days after learning she was pregnant inside the packed St. Louis County courtroom.
Similar to Wednesday, Beau Rothwell kept his poker face as the prosecution questioned a DNA forensic expert about DNA samples found inside the couples’ home and in his truck. The expert stated the DNA profile matched Jennifer Rothwell’s.
Sitting with his hands tightly squeezed into his lap, Beau Rothwell kept his head down until the state rested their case. His expression shifted as his defense team ushered in two coworkers and a former teammate whom he played racquetball with. The 29-year-old locked eyes with each witness as they walked through the double doors. His defense team repeatedly asked the men if they saw any sort of aggression from Beau separately. The three men used adjectives like calm, even-tempered, and lowkey to describe the former project manager.
“Engineers have an emotional model. Beau fits into that,” a former coworker elaborated. “We are not the life of the party. We aren’t typically outgoing.”
In cross-examination, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Thomas Smith shoots off a series of fast-paced questions:
“‘You testified you’ve never seen him angry?’ ‘You testified that you have never seen him aggressive?’ ‘But you weren’t at his residence on Nov. 11, 2019′.”
NEWLYWEDS TO PARENTHOOD
Donning a suit and tie, Beau Rothwell quietly pushed himself from the defense table, stood in front of Judge Ellen Ribaudo, and took an oath to tell the truth. Once seated, Beau Rothwell’s lead attorney Charles Barberio wasted no time divulging into his client’s account of their marriage and what led up to his wife’s death.
Beau Rothwell briefly walked the jurors down memory lane by recalling when he met his late wife at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2010 as lab partners, their shared love for games, and joining her family on annual trips to North Carolina.
“Jennifer was my best friend,” Beau Rothwell said in his testimony. He smiles sharing how he planned their 2014 engagement proposal by buying a cat and tying the wedding band to it. He adds that a successful family life includes fatherhood for him.
“I always wanted to be a dad. She always wanted to be a mom,” he said. In 2018, the pair regularly tried to conceive a child but struggled. In late December, Jennifer Rothwell learned she had endometriosis. Highlighting the couples’ engineering background, he adds while looking at the jurors “we measured body temperatures to see if she was ovulating.” Beau later utters the pair mutually lost interest when their sex life felt “clinical. It lost its spark and felt like a chore.”
During his testimony, Beau Rothwell shared his “awkward experience” when he learned Jennifer Rothwell was pregnant in 2019.
“Domestic chaos,” Beau Rothwell joked. He said he was signing for a pizza delivery when she appears from the back of the house announcing that she was pregnant. He describes the moment as strange since “Jennifer watched reveals on YouTube a lot.”
Beau recalled sitting at their kitchen table in silence while indulging on their pizza. At that moment, he said he knew he had to end the affair.
Over the next few days, the Rothwells would discuss nursery room designs, health care, and making a monthly baby calendar. Beau Rothwell turned red and cried while explaining how excited they were to make one of their own. He wiped his nose as his defense team switched to the next topic.
Barberio then circles back to something brought up previously. Beau Rothwell’s conversation about potential three options regarding his future life with his mistress.
“Option #3 was a way to not make a decision. Just kicking that can down the road,” Beau sighs.” I really wanted a kid. I didn’t want a miscarriage.”
DAY OF MURDER
For the first time since his arrest, Beau Rothwell explained in detail what went down inside the home on Northwinds Drive.
Besides a nasty snowstorm, normal is how Beau described the evening of Nov. 11. He testified he came home at 3 p.m. and Jennifer Rothwell two hours later. Together, they watched Netflix before heading upstairs. Taking one step at a time, Beau Rothwell knew he had to come clean about the affair.
“Plan was to tell her about the affair, throw myself at her mercy, and hope for the best,” Beau recalled his thought process. “I knew if I didn’t let her know, we wouldn’t be able to fix it. I wouldn’t have a chance to be in the child’s life.”
Barberio enlarged a photo of the Rothwells’ dining room on a projector. Jurors examined three chairs alongside a round wooden dining table where the two sat on Nov. 11. According to the 29-year-old, he said with his back against the wall while Jennifer Rothwell sat in the middle chair.
“Jennifer, there is something I have to tell you. I’m really sorry but I’ve been having an affair,” Beau Rothwell began. He recalled his wife angrily saying, ”how dare you (expletive)!”
Beau Rothwell claims his wife demanded him to reveal his mistress’ name but he refused.
He claimed she shoved him before blurting out ”keep your mystery (expletive), I’ve got someone too.“
”Is this even mine?” Beau replied.
The heated conversation went back and forth.
”Who is it?“ Beau now demands his wife to reveal who she allegedly was having an affair with.
”It doesn’t matter. At least he can get me pregnant.”
Beau Rothwell testified he was standing behind his wife and hit her with a mallet in a “red haze” of anger and then followed her as she stumbled towards the garage to escape.
“In the heat of the moment, I hit her again. I think I cracked her skull and she fell down the stairs,” he said. “She was unresponsive, I couldn’t tell if she was deceased.”
The prosecution argues his account doesn’t match the medical examiner’s conclusions and physical evidence. During Wednesday’s trial, the medical examiner testified the fatal wound to Jennifer Rothwell’s head was the result of a single blow with a weapon sturdier than a mallet such as a baseball bat. Prosecutors point to another contradiction between evidence and Beau Rothwell’s testimony. Evidence supports the state’s argument that Beau Rothwell ambushed his wife at the bottom of the steps.
Instead of calling 911, Beau Rothwell claims he went into panic mode and started cleaning up the blood.
“Every fiber in my body was saying ‘Do something or I’d die.’ After killing Jennifer, I thought I had to clean this up and hide what I’d done,” he said.
After scrubbing away the blood and loading her body in the back of his truck lined with a tarp, he said he put the keys in the ignition and drove without a destination in sight.
His voice cracked when he described driving “until I got lost.”
He eventually pulled off on the side of Highway 61 near Troy and placed her body 20 to 25 feet off the road, covering her with twigs and leaves. After dumping evidence in a dumpster, he admitted to later parking her car along Olive Boulevard as part of a scheme to claim she’d gone missing. He also added he knew it was wrong to deceive her friends and family but felt like he had to keep up the façade. Beau participated in a search party for Jennifer, although he knew she was dead.
“Yes, I searched for her car, put up ‘missing’ flyers, and posted on social media,” Beau Rothwell cries.
One shocking admission came during the final cross-examination between Rothwell and Smith regarding his mistress.
“You still talk to [mistress’ name] every day?” Smith questioned, as he slowly walked from left to right along the front of the juror stand. Rather than making eye contact with Beau Rothwell, he turned and locked eyes with jurors.
Beau replies,” Not every day.”
He slowly turns his back and asks, “You don’t?”
Beau admits the pair talk “almost every day” since he was arrested in 2019.
“You still had an affair while you knew you were having a baby?’ Smith asked.
“Yes,” Beau said.
“Throw yourself at [Jennifer’s] mercy for a chance to be in the child’s life? There is no kid! You took an object and smashed it in her head while a baby was in her womb!” Smith interjected.
“Objection. Badgering the witness,” Barberio muttered.
Smith ends his cross-examination by focusing on Beau Rothwell’s own statements about panicking during the murder.
“Were you panicking while lying to your mother-in-law and father-in-law?” Smith said while pointing at Jennifer’s parents who were sitting in the front row behind the prosecution.
In a response to his pregnant wife’s murder, Beau Rothwell weeps “it haunts me every day.”
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