Penalty Phase of Trial Continues; Teen Testifies She was Attacke - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Penalty Phase of Trial Continues; Teen Testifies She was Attacked by Cozzie

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There were bombshells in the Steve Cozzie murder trial, Tuesday.

Taking the stand to testify was a Kentucky teenager alleging she was a victim of an assault by Cozzie just one week before he murdered Courtney Wilkes.

The teen had a similar m.o. as Courtney Wilkes: young, on vacation with her family, and she had become acquainted with Cozzie during her stay.

Unlike Wilkes, this girl escaped with her life to share her ordeal with the court on Tuesday.

"He came up behind me. He strangled me. He had put like a cloth type thing around my neck," she said.

She says she went on a walk with Steven Cozzie on the Cassine Nature Trail, which was the same place Courtney Wilkes was murdered just 7 days later.

"He had me by the neck and he was telling me to take my clothes off," said then teenager.

It was a chillingly similar story: a casual meeting, a walk on the trail, and a surprise assault by strangulation

She said Cozzie dragged her to the ground, with the intention of committing a sexual act.

Where the story differs is that this teen was able to fight him off.

"He liked backed away and was like, "I can't do this. I can't do this," she said.

Meanwhile, a distressed mother and grandmother searched frantically for their missing daughter whom had asked permission to walk to a nearby convenience store.

When they made contact and she was back safe, her mother, Melinda Bull, described her daughter's appearance.

"Her clothes were covered in dirt…on the back. She was just very, very distraught," said Bull.

The incident was never reported to police; a step that potentially could have changed the course of Cozzie's actions with Wilkes.

For the grandmother, Pauline Stewart, it's a decision they've had to live with.

"We just made a poor choice. We decided not to call the police. (Victim's name) gave us everything we needed. The failure was on our part," said Stewart.

The purpose of Tuesday's testimony was to show Cozzie's premeditation of murder.

The prosecution used it to show that Cozzie was out to finish what he started.

Both sides are bringing in their own mental health experts who've evaluated Cozzie's mental status.

It is expected that the jury will be able to make their recommendation towards the death penalty Wednesday evening.

Judge Kelvin Wells will have the ultimate say.