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Man Accused of Shooting FSU Student Back in Jail

By: Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro Email
By: Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro Email

UPATED 10.27.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A former FSU student accused of accidentally shooting and killing a friend is now back behind bars after a judge revoked his bond.

Evan Wilhelm was arrested for manslaughter earlier this year in the death of Ashley Cowie.

Cowie was killed by a shotgun blast at a Heritge Grove apartment in January 2011.

According to court records, Wilhelm called Cowie's sister four times despite a court order that barred him from calling her or any other family members.

Court records show prosecutors subpoenaed Cowie's phone records and Wilhelm's employment records. Court records show Wilhelm was making those calls from the his job at Goodwill.

Court records say Amy Cowie did not answer three calls from Wilhelm on June 20th but did answer his call on June 21st. That's when she called the state attorney's office. Prosecutor John Hutchins would not comment on the content of that conversation.

The judge revoked Wilhelm's bond and issued a warrant for his arrest on Monday.

Wilhelm was booked into jail last night. The prosecutor says that's where he'll stay until his trial in May.

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October 27, 2011 -

Evan Wilhelm is back in jail after a judge revokes his bond and issues an arrest warrant. Wilhelm was arrested for manslaughter in the accidental shooting of FSU student Ashley Cowie at a frat house party in early 2011.

Wilhelm was booked into the Leon County Jail last night. Wilhelm is charged with manslaughter, according to the Leon County Jail booking report for October 26th.

Stay with WCTV for updates.
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[UPDATE] 7-27 5:10pm-

An FSU student accused of accidentally shooting and killing a classmate was back in court Thursday.

Evan Wilhelm is accused in a shooting that stunned FSU's Greek community and beyond. He went before a judge at the Leon County Courthouse Thursday morning, his mother sobbing by his side.

Wilhelm was in court for a status hearing in the manslaughter case.
Wilhelm is accused of accidentally shooting and killing his friend, Ashley Cowie, at a fraternity house back in January.

The Judge scheduled a final status hearing for October. That's when they expect to set either a trial date or a plea date.

Wilhelm was wearing a bracelet that read "Ashley Cowie, Forever in our memory."

The bracelet is part of a fund raising campaign to endow a scholarship in Ashley's name.

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[UPDATE] 7-27 Noon -

Judge Tamayo set Evan Wilhelms next case management hearing for October 27th. At this time, there is no plea offer.

October 27th will be the last case management hearing. Then they will have a plea or set a trial date.

All previous conditions established by the judge are still in place.

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[UPDATE] 7-28 9am:

Evan Wilhelm is waiting for his status hearing at the Leon County Courthouse.

On January 9, 2011, FSU Police say 20-year-old Evan Wilhelm was playing with his firearm, showing his new light to his friends at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity when he accidentally shot and killed FSU student Ashley Cowie. He said he didn't know the firearm was loaded.

Stay with WCTV for updates.

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UPDATE 6:22pm 3-10 by Jill Chandler:

The night FSU student Ashley Cowie was accidentally shot and killed at a fraternity house seven people called 911. Thursday deputies released those 911 tapes.

Friends were hanging out at the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity house around one in the morning,when police say Evan Wilhelm accidentally discharged his AK-74 variant, a newer version of the AK-47, killing Ashley Cowie, and injuring another student.

He made the first call to 911.

911: "911, what is your emergency?"
Evan Wilhelm: "Yes, I have a gun, and somehow it got loaded. And someone just got shot. I don't even know what happened.
911: "OK, where are you? Say it one more time."
Evan Wilhelm:"Yes, as soon as you can."
911: "Is this an apartment or a house?"

According to the 911 recording, Wilhelm then hung up. The 911 operator called back.

911: OK, this is the 911 operator. What apartment number are yall in?" "Where is the person shot?"
Evan Wilhelm: "Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God."
911: "Where is the person shot?"
Evan Wilhelm: "In the chest. I think she's dead... Oh my God."
911: "Is it a female?"
Evan Wilhelm: "yes, it's a female."
911: "Is she inside or outside? OK listen, is she inside or outside?"
Evan Wilhelm: "She's inside, she's inside."
911:"Is it a white female or a black female?"
Evan Wilhelm : "Oh my God."
911: "Honey, is it a white female or a black female?"
Evan Wilhelm: "Yeah, She is white."
911: "OK, what is her name?"
Evan Wilhelm: " Her name is Ashley."

Another Caller's 911 recording went as follows:

Caller: "A gun went off and I need an ambulance here immediately."
911: "Let me transfer you to EMS, do not hang up."
Caller speaking to Wilhelm: "Did you kill her?"
Wilhelm: "I don't know how this happened."

Some callers described Ashley as unresponsive and blood everywhere. Ashley Cowie's father said her twin sister, Amy, who was there at the time, tried to resuscitate her, but nothing could be done.

Cowie's father, Dr. Robert Cowie, testified in front of a Senate Committee two weeks ago. He spoke out against Senate Bill 234. A bill that would allow those with concealed weapons permits to carry them on campus. Wednesday March 9th, that part of the bill was dropped.

Updated 7pm 2-27 by Jennifer Milton:

"Ashley came into this world with me by her side and she left this world with me by her side," said Amy Cowie.

Amy Cowie is grieving the loss of her soul mate. Her identical twin sister Ashley was accidentally shot and killed at an FSU fraternity house on January 9th. Now, she shares the pain of losing her other half at a memorial service on the university's campus.

"Every holiday and every time its my birthday, my wedding and when she's supposed to be the aunt of my kids, I will miss her by my side through it all...but with every step I take until I die, I will always be thinking about her, and always be feeling the loss in my heart," said Cowie.

20 year old Ashley Cowie was a member of the Chi Omega sorority. She was studying interior design. Friends say she loved sunflowers and always put others before herself. They also say she changed their lives for the better, and those she left behind say they were lucky to have known her.

"It may sound weird coming from a 20 year old, but I believe we experienced true love. No matter the situation, she never failed to bring a smile to my face. And though no longer here on earth with us, she continues to bring smiles to my face because of the moments we shared together," said Ashley's boyfriend Philip Robbins.

Ashley was accidentally shot by 20-year-old Evan Wilhelm as he was showing off a light on his gun to his fraternity brothers. The FSU chapter of the fraternity has been removed from campus.

Wilhelm was originally charged with second degree manslaughter, but it was later determined Cowie's death is a first degree felony.
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[UPDATE] 2-25 3:40pm----

A memorial service will be held for Ashley Cowie in Orange Park Saturday, February 26th. The memorial will be held at Orange Park Methodist Church at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking people to donate to the Ashley Cowie Memorial Fund at any Regions Bank.

[UPDATE] 2-25 1:40pm --

There is a memorial service that Ashley Cowie’s family is holding for her this Sunday, Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. at the Oglesby Union Ballrooms at FSU.

FSU administrators in the Dean of Students office are assisting the family. Dean of Students Jeanine Ward-Roof will be there, and so will Associate Dean of Students Robin Leach.

The public is invited. The family has requested those in attendance wear purple or yellow, which reportedly were her favorite colors. FSU Officials as that people consider using Parking Garage No. 1 off Woodward Avenue (next to the University Bookstore) for parking.

The Oglesby Union Ballrooms are part of the University Union complex, next to the Rovetta Business Building.

FSU Officials are expecting a very large crowd.

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[UPDATE] 2-21-11 By Jill Chandler

A memorial for Ashley Cowie will take place February 27th in the FSU Ballrooms at 11am.

The memorial is open to the public.

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[UPDATE] 2-4-11 By Jill Chandler

Operations at the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house at Florida State are now completely shut down.

The fraternity was first suspended about a month ago following the accidental shooting death of FSU student Ashley Cowie. However, now that the Lambda Chi Alpha National investigation is complete, the fraternity is officially closed.

The National Fraternity investigation found take graphic " the men seemed disinterested in assessing what the membership should be doing differently or how their decisions and choices contributed to an unsafe environment." The full statement from Lambda Chi Alpha is attached to this story.

Under the rules of suspension, the brothers will be inactive and unable to represent the fraternity in any manner, but they will attain alumni status when they graduate.

It's unknown if and when the fraternity will return to active status on campus.

[UPDATE] 2-4 2:20PM --

As a result of a tragic accident that happened on Jan. 9, Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity’s International Headquarters has suspended operations of the Zeta-Rho chapter at Florida State University.

The press release is attached above.

Stay with WCTV for more on this story this evening.

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UPDATED 1-11 at 6:15pm By Candace Sweat

It looks like an ordinary day on FSU's campus. But for many students it doesn't feel that way, and it may not for a long time.

"It takes time. I had a cousin that was my age that was killed by a drunk driver last December so it's something I can definitely relate to. My family is still hurting and it's a year later," said Tiffany Beachump with Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

20-year-old Ashley Cowie died early Sunday morning after being accidentally shot in the chest by Evan Wilhelm at his fraternity's house in Heritage Grove. Authorities say Wilhelm, who is also 20 years old, admits that he had been drinking earlier that day.

"You gotta use your head. You shouldn't be messing around with guns and you should at least have the safety on and not have it loaded, especially with people around," said FSU student, Kyle Manning.

Wilhelm is a member of the Zeta Rho chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, and his actions have had a detrimental effect on the entire chapter.

The International Headquarters for the fraternity released a statement. It says: "As a result of last Saturday night's tragic accident, Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity's International Headquarters has suspended operations of the Zeta-Rho chapter at Florida State University. "

Some say there is a lesson to be learned.

"What I would hope is that the FSU population realizes that life is fragile. There's a mentality of 'I'm invincible and Im gonna live forever' but life is so precious," said Beachum.

WCTV contacted the Lambda Chi Alpha headquarters to discuss the terms of the suspension, but has not heard back from them as of 6pm Tuesday afternoon.

As for Wilhelm, he was first charged with second degree manslaughter, but it was later determined Cowie's death is a first degree felony. Wilhelm was released on Monday on $25,000 bond.

We'll have more details on funeral services and what's next for the fraternity as soon as they become available.

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UPDATE 1-11-2010 9:30a.m.

Lambda Chi Alpha National Fraternity has suspended operations at the Florida State Chapter until Florida State University investigations are complete as well as the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity National investigation of the chapter.
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Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity Statement:

INDIANAPOLIS --

As a result of last Saturday night’s tragic accident, Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity’s International Headquarters has suspended operations of the Zeta-Rho chapter at Florida State University.

In partnership with university officials, Lambda Chi Alpha is cooperating fully with local law enforcement.

“We are extremely saddened by this tragedy and our hearts and prayers are with the students' families during this very difficult time,” said William T. Farkas, executive vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity.

The policies of Florida State University and the Greek organizations on campus (FIPG) state that the possession and/or use of firearms is prohibited.

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UPDATE 1-10-2010

There was a somber feeling on campus today (1-10) as students remember 20-year old Ashley Cowie. While everyone is still trying to come to terms with what happened, friends and family are asking that everyone respect their privacy at this time.

Students at Florida State are mourning the loss of another student---the second in less than two weeks.
A member of Chi Omega, 20-year old Orange Park native, Ashley Cowie was accidentally shot in the chest by Evan Wilhelm at a fraternity house in Heritage Grove, early Sunday morning. School officials say students are trying their best to help each other cope.

Jeanine Ward-Roof, FSU Dean of Students, says, "Our students have an incredible resilience and they really do help each other out and I think you can see that with the student organizations that interact with these two students but also they are holding each other up in terms of friends and residence hall floors and any other areas."

Members of Chi Omega were unable to speak to the media however the sorority did issue a statement. It reads:

"Chi Omega's national president has spoken with chapter leaders at Florida State University to offer support to Ashley's family, friends, and Sisters during this difficult time. We are respecting the family's and chapter's requests for privacy as they mourn the loss of Ashley."

Ward-Roof adds, "Unfortunately there are times when mistakes are made and accidents do happen and things happen where tragedies like this occur and so we try to work with students in these occasions and really try to help to make sure we can put things in place where they won't happen again .. and help the students deal with the issues that are at hand."

Grief counseling is available to any student having a hard time coping with the loss of Ashley at either the school counseling center or victim advocate services.

At this point no memorials or funeral plans have been set but we will keep you updated as soon as those details become available.

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UPDATE 1-10-2010

The 20-year-old man charged with the death of an FSU student faces a judge this morning. Evan Wilhelm was granted bond after what police are calling an "accidental" shooting.

Evan Wilhelm's charges first read as second degree manslaughter, but during his first appearance this morning, it was clarified that the shooting death of an FSU student is a first degree felony.

Twenty-year-old Evan Wilhelm sat straight-faced during his first appearance Monday 1-10...
The prosecution requested that bond be set at 25-thousand dollars on Wilhelm's first degree manslaughter charge for the death of FSU student Ashley Cowie...
Wilhelm's father stood before the court and told Judge Judith Hawkins that he agreed that the requested bond was appropriate for his son.
"I concur with the recommendation of the State."
On Sunday, FSU Police say Wilhelm was showing off his new light for his gun to his friends at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity... when the gun went off.

FSU Police LT Jason Trombower,says,"Allegedly, he did not know that the gun was loaded and was just activating the flashlight on the weapon, on and off; and then accidentally discharged the weapon." Student Keith Savino was hit in the wrist and suffered a non-life threatening wound ... but 20-year-old Ashley Cowie wasn't so lucky. Officers say a bullet hit the Florida State Sophomore in the chest, killing her immediately.

Ashley Cowie's friend, Bron Volney says, "Ashley was always surprised when I said, Hey, Ashley, what's going on? She said usually people can't tell us apart; we're identical twins, and you're the only one that doesn't call us by our last name. You call us by our first name."
Our cameras were rolling as Wilhelm's parents left the Leon County jail just before 12:30 Monday afternoon...
Wilhelm was released by 12:46 pm.

As a part of his pre-trial release, Wilhelm has to stay with his parents, he'll have a curfew, he will be tested for drugs and alcohol, and there can't be firearms in the home. The judge says Wilhelm will not have to wear a GPS ankle monitor because he will be with his parents.

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[UPDATE] 1-10 Noon

Statement from Chi Omega:

Today Chi Omega Fraternity learned about the death of Ashley Cowie, a member of the Chi Omega Chapter at Florida State University. Letitia Fulkerson, Chi Omega’s national president, has spoken with chapter leaders at Florida State University to offer support to Ashley’s family, friends, and Sisters during this difficult time. We are respecting the family’s and chapter’s requests for privacy as they mourn the loss of Ashley.

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[UPDATE] 1-10 9:20AM

Evan Wilhelm has his first appearance in court this morning at 9am. During the short appearance, the state suggested a $25,000 bond. The judge granted bond. The judge stated that the conditions of the bond would included Wilhelm being released to his parents (both were in court today), he will have a curfew, and he will not be allowed any firearms.

Stay with WCTV as details develop.

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UPDATE at 6:00pm by Jill Chandler

FSU Police say 20-year-old Evan Wilhelm was playing with his firearm, showing his new light to his friends at Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity when the accident occurred. He said he didn't know the firearm was loaded.

Lt. Jason Trumbower from FSU Police said, "The firearm went off fatally wounding another student and striking another student in the wrist."

Authorities say, he shot Ashley Cowie in the chest killing her immediately. The other student injured, Keith Savino, went to the hospital and has already been released.

The commotion happened around 1:15 a.m. on Sunday morning and people say in the Heritage Grove area off of Ocala street heard the shot.

Darren Desantis lives in the fraternity house next to Lambda Chi Alpha. He said, "(the shot) woke me up and that's when I went downstairs and everyone was in the courtyard frantic... didn't know what to do."

Heritage Grove policy is that firearms are not allowed on the property, and it's against Lamba Chi Alpha fraternity policy to keep a gun at the fraternity house. When the police arrived at the scene, Wilhelm admitted to drinking earlier in the day and didn't resist arrest. He's been charged with negligent manslaughter. FSU police are waiting on the results of a toxicology test.

Ashley Cowie was sophomore at FSU. She and her twin sister Amy are members of the Chi Omega sorority. Her parents are not releasing her photo because their daughters are identical twins.

Her death has shaken the entire Greek life community. FSU students plan to hold a memorial sometime next week. Friends say they want to remember the outgoing, kind hearted young woman whose life ended too early.

Wilhelm will make his first appearance in court with a judge Monday morning. FSU police are currently consulting with the State Attorneys office to see if further gun charges may be pending. __________________________________________________
UPDATE at 11:50am by Jill Chandler

People who live in Heritage Grove where the shooting occurred heard the shots and did not know what was going on.

Darren Desantis lives next door to the Lambda Chi Fraternity house said, "(the shot) woke me up and that is when I went downstairs and everyone was in the courtyard frantic. We didn't know what to do."

Desantis said he heard sirens until 6 a.m. He also said guns are not allowed in the apartment complex or fraternity houses. He said, "I'm personally a gun owner, but I keep my guns at home, and those situations, you know, that's when you need it and they're not here."

Students plan to hold a memorial some time this coming week. We'll update the story with those details as soon as a time and place are set.
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UPDATED AT: 10:30 1/9

STATEMENT FROM THE FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY:
ONE STUDENT KILLED IN SHOOTING OFF CAMPUS

A female student at The Florida State University died early today and a male student was wounded in a shooting incident off campus.

At 1:16 a.m. on Jan. 9, the FSU Police Department and Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1944 Heritage Grove, a collection of properties housing fraternity students off Ocala Road, to investigate a report of an accidental shooting. Police immediately secured the area and determined there was no further threat to the campus community. They quickly identified the shooter and began an investigation.

According to FSU Police Chief David Perry, Evan Wilhelm, a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, was in his apartment allegedly showing friends new accessories on his rifle when it accidentally discharged, shooting a female student, Ashley Cowie, in the chest, then striking a male student, Keith Savino, in the wrist. Cowie died at the scene. Savino's injury was not life-threatening.

Cowie, 20, was a sophomore from Orange Park, Fla. majoring in interior design. Savino, 20, a junior from Tampa majoring in risk management/insurance, was treated for his wound at a local hospital. Wilhelm, 20, a junior from Ponte Vedra Beach majoring in biology, was not injured.

Wilhelm was arrested early today and booked into the Leon County Jail. He was charged with manslaughter, a second degree felony. Police said the investigation is continuing.

FSU Dean of Students Jeanine Ward-Roof expressed grief at the loss on behalf of the university and said Victims Advocate services would be offered to the friends and families of the students. In addition, counseling will be made available to any student who requests it.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragedy, and our hearts and prayers are with the students' families at this terrible time," Ward-Roof said. "We strive throughout the year to educate students on how to protect themselves and others, and we are heartsick when incidents such as this occur."

Firearms are prohibited on public university campuses in Florida. The fraternities' buildings at Heritage Grove are private properties, and a housing authority contracts with FSU to provide police services there.

University officials pledged to review the situation and to continue to urge students to be mindful of rules and crime prevention information designed to protect them and their fellow students.

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FSU PD confirmed Sunday morning, 20-year-old Ashley Cowie was shot and killed on the scene at the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity house at 944 Heritage Grove.

20-year-old male Evan Wilhelm was showing friends his new light on his gun and was pointing the gun at his friends when he pulled the trigger.
The round hit Cowie in the chest and she died immediately.

FSU PD Major Jim Russel says a round went through her chest and hit Keith Savino in the wrist. Savino has been treated and released from the hospital.

Wilhelm admitted to drinking earlier in the day and did not resist arrest. A toxicology screening is scheduled.

Wilhelm has been charged with homicide-negligent manslaughter.

We will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.


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