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FSU Student Accused of Shooting and Killing Friend Sentenced

By: Danielle Eldredge, Julie Montanaro Email
By: Danielle Eldredge, Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED 7:30pm by Julie Montanaro

An FSU student is now headed to prison for accidentally shooting and killing a friend at a frat house.

Evan Wilhelm will do 20 years for the shot that killed Ashley Cowie and devastated her family.

"What happened is my fault, entirely," Wilhelm said.

Evan Wilhelm stood in a blue jail jumpsuit and tried to find the words to apologize to the parents of Ashley Cowie.

"I made the mistake that cost Ashley her life and um ... I would give anything in the world to undo this," Wilhelm said.

Wilhelm is accused of accidentally shooting and killing Cowie at an FSU fraternity house back in January 2011. He told police he was showing off a new light atop his semi-automatic rifle when it went off.

Cowie's identical twin sister was in another room when it happened. She took the stand and described the horror of finding her sister lifeless on the floor.

She says she checked for a pulse and there wasn't one. She started CPR but to no avail.

"When we got home later that night, my mother gave me a bath because my hair had Ashley's dried blood in it from trying to save her."

As she clutched a teddy bear filled with her sister's ashes, Amy Cowie asked the judge for the maximum sentence.

"I pray that you will see how this wasn't an accident. This could have been prevented," she said.

Keith Savino was struck in the arm by the same bullet that killed Ashley Cowie. He asked the judge to sentence Wilhelm to 20 years one for each year of Ashley's life.

That's ultimately what the judge did.
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6-15-2012 updated 5pm

Evan Wilhelm has been sentenced to 20 years and 10 years probation for the killing of Ashley Cowie

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UPDATED 6.15.2012

Ashley Cowie's identical twin took the stand and addressed most of her comments directly to Evan Wilhelm.

"I became a twinless tiwn," Amy Cowie said.

Amy Cowie described running into the room that night only to see her sister's black boots in the doorway and blood everywhere.

She says she checked for a pulse and tried to revive Ashley.

Amy Cowie said afterward there was blood on her face and hands.

"They kept telling me to wash it off and I said I didn't want to because it was Ashley's and I knew she was dead and that was all I had left," she said.

Amy Cowie brought a bear with Ashley's ashes in it to the witness stand. She clutched the bear and begged the judge to impose the maximum sentence.
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UPDATED 6.15.2012

Keith Savino testified that the same bullet that passed through Ashley Cowie's body lodged in his arm.

Savino says he still has trouble writing.

He says he will never forget the horror of seeing Ashley Cowie shot in front of his eyes.

Savino asked the judge to sentence Wilhelm to 20 years, one for each year of Ashley's life.

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UPDATED 6.15.2012

Ashley Cowie's parents took the stand and described in painful detail how their daughter's death has changed their lives.

"This is my permanent reality," her mother said. "No one knows the kind of hell our family has been through."

Cowie's mother said she fell to her knees in horror when she received a copy of the pre sentence investigation that noted Wilhelm still had no remorse for the shootings.

Dr. Robert Cowie described a deputy coming to his door the night of the shooting to notify him of Ashley's death. He said to this day he cannot turn on his porch light because he still imagines a deputy standing there.

A collage of photos filled a big screen in the courtroom and Dr. Cowie described each one, including his favorite of a little girl in a swim mask.
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6.15.2012 UPDATED

A Department of Corrections employee who prepared the pre sentence investigation and score sheet testified. He interviewed Wilhelm at the jail and recommended he get the maximum sentence because he says Wilhelm showed no remorse.
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6.15.2012 1:30pm

Officer Doug Kutchera was one of the first officers on scene. He says the entire fraternity house smelled like marijuana and Wilhelm appeared to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

He says he sat in as officers interviewed Wilhelm in a bedroom. Kutchera said not once did Wilhelm ask how Ashley Cowie was doing but said repeatedly "my life is over."

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Updated 6.15.2012 12:30pm by Julie Montanaro

Evan Wilhelm spoke directly to the family of Ashley Cowie. He said not a day has gone by that he hasn't wanted to talk with them.

He said "No question what happened is my fault entirely. It's mine and mine alone."

"I was thoughtless. I was wrong," he said, "I would give anything in the world to undo this."

Wilhelm asked the Cowie's to try to forgive him.

The Cowie's started sobbing when prosecutors pulled out the semi-automatic weapon that Wilhelm fired that night. It had a 30 round banana clip in it.
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June 15, 2012 - Noon

An FSU student will be sentenced later this afternoon for accidentally shooting and killing his friend. Evan Wilhelm is facing up to 35 years in prison for shooting Ashley Cowie in January 2011.

Wilhelm has already entered a plea to manslaughter charges in Cowie's death. She was killed at Heritage Grove. Police say Wilhelm was showing friends a new light on his gun when it went off. He told police he did not know it was loaded.

The courtroom is packed as witnesses take the stand. Wilhelm's family members, friends and co-workers are testifying. They say Wilhelm is "crushed" by what happened and have asked the judge to be merciful in his sentence. Cowie's family and friends are expected to take the stand later this afternoon.

There are so many people expected to testify during the sentencing hearing that the courtroom has been reserved for the rest of the day.

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UPDATED 11:30am by Julie Montanaro

A family friend took the stand and told the judge that Evan was "crushed" by what happened. He asked the judge to consider "the good he could do" by talking with college students about the dangers of guns.

One of Wilhelm's co-workers at Goodwill says she "could hear his heart breaking" every time he talked about the shooting.

Wilhelm's grandmother and pastor have also taken the stand.

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Updated 6.15.2012 10:55 am by Julie Montanaro

Evan Wilhelm is set to be sentenced today for accidentally shooting and killing a friend at FSU's Heritage Grove last fall.

Ashley Cowie was shot in the chest and killed in January 2011. Arrest reports indicate Wilhelm was showing friends a new light on his gun when it went off. Wilhelm told police he did not know the gun was loaded.

Nearly two dozen of Cowie's family and friends are in courtroom 3G. Wilhelm's family and friends number in the dozens too and are filling the rest of the seats.

Wilhelm just walked in wearing a blue jail jump suit.

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Tallahassee, Florida - June 15, 2012 -

An FSU student accused of accidentally shooting and killing a friend is expected to be sentenced today, June 15th. Eyewitness News has a reporter on the story, stay with WCTV for details.

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Tallahassee, FL--4/26/12

An FSU student accused of accidentally shooting and killing a friend entered a plea in court today.

Evan Wilhelm was arrested last year and is accused of killing Ashley Cowie at a gathering in Heritage Grove.

Wilhelm pled no contest today to manslaughter, possession of a firearm and culpable negligence.

Wilhelm will be sentenced June 15. Prosecutors say he faces up to 35 years in prison.

Click here to read the original story.

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Tallahassee, FL--1/09/12

Today marks the anniversary of Florida State student Ashley Cowie's death.

One year ago Cowie was at the Lambda Chi fraternity house in Heritage Grove when police say Cowie's friend Evan Wilhelm accidentally shot and killed her. FSU students say January 9th, 2011 is a day that will forever be etched in their minds.

"I feel like it was very quiet. Everyone was very down and shocked and confused. No one really knew like the whole story like right away," said FSU student Katie Hippelheuser.

Wilhelm is currently behind bars on charges of manslaughter, possession of a fire arm on school property, and possession of marijuana. His court date is May 7th.


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