Police found the victim dead, beaten and bloody in one of the defendants’ bedrooms nearly two years ago, and the two defendants unconscious in the master bedroom and master bathroom covered in blood.
Now prosecutors are asking a six-woman, eight man jury to convict the defendants of murder.
Opening statements began Tuesday afternoon in the trial of Chris James Lowe, 40, and Lori Mattie, 39, who are each charged with murder and first-degree unlawful imprisonment in the death of Michelle Marlow, 36, of Williamsburg.
Lowe is also charged with tampering with physical evidence for allegedly moving Marlow’s body after having beaten her.
Marlow was found dead inside the defendant’s residence on July 23, 2017, from blunt force trauma to her head, neck and arms.
“They beat her to death and tried to cover up evidence of their guilt,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling said in his opening statement.
Bowling noted that on the evening of July 22, Marlow and her boyfriend, Claude Dean, had gone over to Lowe and Mattie’s Old Mud Creek Road home for a night of drinking and fun.
Marlow and Dean thought the couple were friends. Everything was calm until the next day when Chris Lowe couldn’t find his wallet with $300 inside, and picked up a shotgun from his bedroom pointing it at people telling them that if he didn’t find out who had his money they would die, Bowling told jurors.
Lowe soon became convinced that Marlow had taken his money, and he hit her “over and over and over and over” with a walking stick that eventually broke into two pieces, Bowling said.
Half of the walking stick was later found in a bathroom at the Lowe-Mattie home with Marlow’s blood on it.
At one point, Marlow went out to her vehicle and rummaged through it trying to find any money or anything she could give to Lowe, and Mattie was on her back hitting her during that time period, Bowling said.
At one point when Lowe and Mattie had Marlow in a bathroom, Dean was able to escape the residence, Bowling told jurors.
He later sent his mother back to the residence in an attempt to pick-up Marlow, a police officer testified.
Charles Lowe, Chris’ uncle, testified Tuesday that he was driving home on the evening of July 23, 2017, and drove by Chris’ residence when he saw two women laying in the road.
“I kind of shook my head trying to figure out what was going on,” Charles Lowe testified.
Charles Lowe said he saw one of the women, who was later identified as Mattie, get up after laying partially on top of the other woman, who he didn’t know. The second woman didn’t look like she was breathing.
Charles Lowe said that he got out of his vehicle, and helped Chris Lowe move the second woman out of the road to the bank alongside of the road.
“I told him (Chris) you better call 911. She doesn’t look good. He said she was asleep,” Charles Lowe testified.
Charles Lowe then went home and called 911 to report that two women were lying in the road and one of them didn’t look like she was breathing.
Kentucky State Police Lt. Tony Dingess was the closest officer and responded to the scene.
Dingess initially couldn’t find the address that Charles Lowe initially gave police, but after speaking with him, he spotted the scene where Charles Lowe told him the two women had been laying in the road.
Dingess said he was essentially able to follow a trail of blood and drag marks that lead up to the Lowe-Mattie residence’s back door.
Fearing that someone could be injured inside, he entered the residence through the back door and observed blood in the kitchen, hallway, bathroom, and in a bedroom.
Dingess said that he found Chris Lowe naked and unconscious on the bed in the master bedroom, and Mattie unconscious on the toilet in the master bathroom with her pants down around her ankles, her chest bare and her head touching the floor. It took several attempts to wake them up.
In the other bedroom, Dingess testified that he saw another woman, who was later identified as Marlow, who appeared to be severely beaten and was dead.
Both Chris Lowe and Mattie had a good deal of blood on them, Dingess said. Mattie didn’t appear to be injured except for a busted lip, Dingess testified.
Defense opening statement
Mattie’s attorney, Cotha Hudson, told jurors during her opening statement Tuesday that Marlow wasn’t the only one, who suffered at the hands of Chris Lowe describing her client as an abused spouse, although Mattie and Lowe were not legally married but lived together.
Hudson noted that Mattie had to get 12 staples in her head not too long before Marlow’s killing.
“The one thing she can’t tell you is what happened that night,” Hudson said adding that Marlow had a 0.31 blood alcohol level when her blood was taken at Baptist Health Corbin after the body was discovered in her home.
A person is considered legally intoxicated in Kentucky and most other states with a blood alcohol level of 0.08.
Hudson said that Mattie has no clear memory of what happened that night.
Lowe’s attorney, Michael Brophy, deferred his opening argument until after the prosecution concludes its case.