Lowe-Mattie Trial Day 3: Lowe takes stand in his own defense
On July 23, 2017, then Kentucky State Police Sgt. Tony Dingess followed a trial of blood and drag marks from a gravel road through Chris Lowe and Lori Mattie’s yard up to the backdoor of their Old Mud Creek Road home. Dingess saw more blood in the kitchen floor and then in the hallway as he entered the home.
He found the guest bathroom with blood throughout it. In the guest bedroom, he observed the dead body of Michelle Marlow, who had been beaten to death.
In the master bedroom, he found the naked Lowe laying on the bed unconscious with blood all over his hands. In the master bathroom, he found the nearly naked Mattie sitting on the toilet with blood on her and also unconscious.
Lowe and Mattie are currently being tried in Whitley Circuit Court for murder and unlawful imprisonment in Marlow’s death.
When Lowe took the witness stand Thursday afternoon as the last witness in third day of their trial, he had a lot of explaining to do for jurors, but didn’t provide many key details, such as how the dead woman ended up in one of his bedrooms, how she got killed, or how his guest bathroom ended up with blood all over it.
Lowe’s account of the events leading up to the body’s discovery went something like this.
Lowe’s friend, Claude Dean and Marlow, Dean’s girlfriend, had gone to Lowe and Mattie’s home on July 22, 2017, for a night of much drinking and rest.
Lowe told jurors that Dean wasn’t a good drunk, and that about 11 p.m. he and Dean ended up wrestling around, but eventually everyone calmed down with the possible exception of when Dean came into Lowe and Mattie’s bedroom and took his pants down.
They all woke up about 10:30 or 11 a.m. the next day.
Lowe started mowing the grass, but ran out of gas and later alcohol.
Lowe claimed that he and Mattie left the home to go to get gas, cigarettes and booze, and that he thought Dean and Mattie left their home about the same time.
Lowe told jurors that he started drinking liquor on his drive back home from Williamsburg to his southern Whitley County home near the state line, and he didn’t remember much about the trip home.
When Mattie and Lowe went back inside their home, Lowe said this is when trouble started.
Dean and Marlow’s vehicle was nowhere to be seen outside, and Lowe claimed that he saw the couple run down his hallway from the direction of his bedroom to his living room.
“My reaction was stunned,” Lowe told jurors. “I stood there kind of startled.”
Lowe said that Mattie went down the hall to their bedroom to put away the rest of their money in Lowe’s wallet, but it was gone.
Marlow eventually left the living room and ran down the hallway where she and Mattie apparently got into some sort of altercation while Lowe was in his bedroom.
He testified that he saw his shotgun laying on the bedroom floor with 10 shells out on the ground, and that he loaded two shells into the gun, then went outside the backdoor and fired twice into the air, and told Dean and Mattie that they needed to leave his property.
The second spent shotgun shell jammed as it was exiting the gun.
The details of what happened next are kind of a blur, Lowe told jurors.
“I was extremely intoxicated and blacking out,” he testified.
Lowe said that he didn’t remember striking Marlow in the head with a stick, or Mattie striking her in the head with a stick either.
Lowe’s attorney, Mike Brophy, pointed out that Dean testified Marlow was at her car at one point with Mattie beating on her.
Lowe said he didn’t remember Mattie restraining or striking Marlow, but remembers everyone being “extremely intoxicated.”
“I truly don’t understand myself what happened that day,” Lowe told jurors.
At some point he remembers waking up outside, and seeing Marlow lying on the ground, and Mattie crying. Lowe remembers checking on Marlow, but she wasn’t breathing.
Lowe testified that he remembered performing CPR on Marlow, but didn’t remember what Mattie was doing while he did this.
Lowe said that he didn’t remember anything else until Dingess handcuffed him on the front porch, and two or three officers were going through his home.
At that point, “I assumed something bad had happened,” he told jurors.
Lowe said that he also didn’t remember Marlow and Mattie lying in the gravel road, or his uncle, Charles Lowe, helping him to move Marlow’s body from the road, which Charles Lowe testified to Tuesday afternoon.
Then Commonwealth’s Attorney Ronnie Bowling cross-examined Lowe pointing out various details.
For instance, he asked Lowe how it was he and Mattie paid for the liquor, cigarettes and gas that they bought if Lowe’s wallet was at home.
Lowe said that he assumed Mattie took just enough money to pay for what they needed.
Lowe said that he kept his shotgun in the master bedroom closet next to his .22 rifle and a BB gun, but couldn’t explain why police found no .22 rifle or BB gun when they did an extensive search of the home after finding Marlow’s body inside.
Police found one spent shotgun shell in Lowe’s master bedroom near the shotgun.
Lowe couldn’t explain why police didn’t find the first spent shotgun shell outside of his home since he claimed to have fired the gun twice outside with the second shell jamming as it would have been ejected from the gun.
He also couldn’t explain why Whitley County E-911 received no reports of shots fired in his neighborhood that day.
Bowling pointed out a red spot on the barrel of the shotgun that appeared to be blood and asked how it got there.
“I don’t know sir,” Lowe replied.
When Dingess woke up Lowe after Marlow’s body was discovered, Lowe grabbed a pair of silver ball shorts to put on that had blood on them, which lab analysis later identified as belonging to Marlow.
Bowling asked how Marlow’s blood got on Lowe’s shorts.
“I can’t really explain it except maybe when I gave her CPR,” Lowe testified.
Bowling added that Dean testified Thursday the blood got on Lowe’s shorts when Lowe hit Marlow.
Lowe’s only explanation for how his hands got soaked in Marlow’s blood was that it must have happened when he gave her CPR.
Bowling showed a picture to the jury of Marlow’s dead body, which showed no blood on her chest, particularly in the area where Lowe where have done chest compressions.
Lowe testified that a walking stick found at his home had been outside quite some time.
He couldn’t explain how a broken part of that walking stick ended up in his guest bathroom with Marlow’s blood on it.
“I don’t recall hitting her with it sir,” Lowe replied to one of Bowling’s questions.
Bowling pointed out that Dean testified that Lowe hit Marlow over the head with the stick.
“I don’t remember hitting her with the stick,” he replied.
Lowe also didn’t recall how the stick got broken.
He offered no explanation for how Marlow’s blood got on a liquor bottle found outside in his yard.
Bowling noted that it was convenient that Lowe could remember performing CPR on Marlow, but not how she died.
Lowe said that his memory was in and out that day due largely to drinking.
When asked why he didn’t call police or an ambulance for Marlow when CPR didn’t work, Lowe said that he and Mattie didn’t have a cell phone.
Bowling then asked why Lowe didn’t drive to a neighbor’s home to get help, or his uncle’s nearby home?
“I was intoxicated to the level where I couldn’t function,” Lowe testified.
Lowe later added, “Had I not been intoxicated this probably wouldn’t have happened.”
Prior to Lowe taking the stand Thursday, prosecutors called Shawn Bagwell, who was a friend of Lowe’s that stopped by his home on July 23 to see about getting a new transmission for his car.
Bagwell said that he knocked on the door of Lowe and Mattie’s home, but no one answered. He heard voices though and walked to the edge of the house where he saw Mattie and Marlow outside.
“I saw Lori. She had blood in her hair. She was crying,” Bagwell testified.
He also saw Marlow lying in the gravel road not moving.
“I am assuming she is knocked out or dead,” he told jurors.
Bagwell also heard a voice that sounded like Lowe’s saying something like, “one of you all got my money or someone got his money.”
Bagwell got in his truck and backed out of the driveway to leave because he didn’t want to get involved.
Then he saw Lowe’s uncle, Charles Lowe, pull up.
“If I hadn’t seen him (Charles Lowe), I would have called the law,” Bagwell told jurors adding that he knew Charles would call police.
Chris Lowe was the only witness called to testify on his behalf.
Mattie’s attorney, Cotha Hudson, called no witnesses to testify on her behalf. She told jurors during her opening statement Tuesday that Marlow was extremely intoxicated that night and didn’t recall what happened.
Closing arguments are expected to take place first thing Friday morning in the case, and then jurors will begin their deliberations.