A Cathedral City man who fatally beat his 66-year-old landlord because she wanted him out of her house for trashing it and harassing her is bound for state prison.
An Indio jury in August convicted 53-year-old Scott Edmund Pettigrew of first-degree murder, elder abuse and violating a protective order stemming from the death Anita Mimie Cowen, from whom he rented a room in the 69000 block of Heritage Court in Cathedral City.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Johnnetta Anderson sentenced Pettigrew on Friday to 25 years to life in state prison.
“The victim was particularly vulnerable,” Anderson said during the sentencing hearing. “The defendant did take advantage of the position of trust or confidence to commit the offense.”
On the night of June 14, 2016, police were sent to Cowen’s property, where they found the woman unresponsive in the backyard. Paramedics were unable to revive her, and she was pronounced dead less than 40 minutes later. Pettigrew was arrested within hours of the attack.
The victim had filed a restraining order against the defendant less than a week before her death, stating she’d had multiple verbal altercations with him since he’d moved in with her with his two dogs a few months prior.
“Scott Pettigrew was a co-worker I believed to be a friend,” Cowen wrote, detailing living conditions that deteriorated at the home after Pettigrew rented space.
Cowen described several confrontations in court papers during which Pettigrew antagonized her, but she did not allege any physical acts of violence.
She wrote that Pettigrew never paid rent beyond his first month and left her home a mess. She accused him of letting his dogs urinate inside, vomiting in the bathroom without cleaning it up and stuffing garbage in one of the sinks.
“I am being terrorized daily in my own home,” she wrote. “Scott is initiating (trouble) to keep me in constant fear of him and what he will do next time. I don’t want a next time.”
On June 10, 2016, the order was only partially granted by Judge James A. Cox, who stipulated that Pettigrew would have to move his dogs out of the home, and that he had to stay at least five yards away from Cowen. The judge declined to issue an order requiring Pettigrew to vacate the premises, saying there was “no showing of assault or threat of assault (to) elder.”
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