Purdue suspect pleads ‘not guilty’

School begins process to award posthumous degree to slain student.

As law enforcement and others continue to establish a motive into Tuesday’s deadly encounter inside a Purdue University classroom, new details showed the alleged killer targeted his victim and was prepared to surrender to police after committing his actions.

Cody Cousins, a 2008 Springboro High School graduate, sat calmly in court Thursday as Superior Court Magistrate Sean M. Persin entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf for allegedly killing Andrew F. Boldt. Cousins and Boldt, 21, of West Bend, Wis., were seniors and worked as undergraduate teaching assistants for the same professor.

Persin said Cousins, 23, will remain in the Tippecanoe County Jail without bond until his trial, which is tentatively set for April 22.

During the 10-minute hearing, Cousins looked straight ahead with his hands in his lap and answered Persin’s questioned simply “yes” and “no,” while his family looked on from behind a glass partition. Cousins’ parents and sister declined to comment following the hearing.

Cousins is charged with one count of murder. He faces a possible 45 to 65 years in prison if convicted, and the state could pursue the death penalty or life in prison without parole, the judge said.

Purdue President Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. posted a letter today on the university’s website expressing saddness about Tuesday’s shooting and appreciation for the outpouring of support and compassion from the 50,000-campus community.

New details

New information emerged on Thursday that police said Cousins used both a gun and knife to kill Boldt. Authorities said Boldt died from gunshot and knife wounds, and that Cousins left both weapons at the scene before he walked outside to wait for police to arrest him.

Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington released an affidavit of probable cause that provides the first details from witnesses and police about the shooting. Police and witnesses described events during and after the shooting but do not provide any insights that might have triggered the deadly encounter.

Harrington said Cousins targeted Boldt, but has not disclosed why.

The incident occurred during a lab class taught by professor David Meyer in Room 067 in the basement of the Electrical Engineering Building. Both students worked under Meyer for separate classes.

At about 12:03 p.m., Tuesday, Purdue campus police and West Lafayette police said they received several emergency calls about a shooting inside the building. When police arrived, they saw several people “fleeing” from the building.

Witnesses initially told police that a man fired several shots inside a classroom.

West Lafayette police Officer Kevin Coomey was one of the first responders on the scene and found Cousins outside the building “sitting on the ground with his hands behind his head. He had blood on his hands and clothes,” according to the affidavit. Coomey immediately took Cousins into custody.

Once police entered the building, they found Boldt’s body, and he had suffered fatal knife and gunshot wounds. “Police located a handgun on the ground along with several spent shell castings and a knife,” the affidavit said. Police said Cousins fired four or five gunshots.

Harrington said police interviewed several individuals who were in the classroom when Boldt was killed, and they identified Cousins of “stabbing and shooting” Boldt. He said police also have obtained video that showed Cousins was inside the building.

Police have searched Cousin’s apartment on Stadium Avenue, but have not released details if they found anything.

‘Hearts are full of compassion’

Cousins’ attorney, Robert Gevers II of Fort Wayne, said his family is “obviously struggling as well. Our hearts and their hearts are full of compassion and concern for the Purdue family and for the family of Mr. Boldt.”

Gevers, who during court did not contest prosecutors’ request that Cousins be held without bond, said, “We will proceed in providing this young man, Mr. Cousins, the best defense we can.”

Police said Cousins’ last known addresses were in Centerville and Warsaw, Ind., where his parents, Wendy and Rusty Cousins, live. His mother, who works under her maiden Wendy F. Melancon, is a clinical psychologist and is a Wright State University graduate.

Cousins was an honor student, a member of the Dean’s list, according to the school’s website. Cousins was listed as a teaching assistant for a course, “Introduction to Digital System Design.” Boldt was a teaching assistant for “Microprocessor System Design and Interfacing.”

Purdue spokeswoman Liz Evans would not comment on Cousins’ status. A woman who answered the phone at Meyer’s home said the professor would not comment.

Cousins’ next court appearance is on Feb. 24 before Superior Court II Judge Thomas Busch.

Boldt’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday in his hometown of West Bend, Wis. The visitation will be Tuesday afternoon at Saint Frances Cabrini Church, followed by a funeral Mass that night. Schoolmates from Purdue, as well as those who attended Marquette University High School in Milwaukee with him, are invited to attend. Local residents are welcome, too.

Father Nathan Reesman says Boldt’s family members continue to request that their privacy be respected. He asks that media not attend the visitation and funeral.

In lieu of flowers, Boldt’s family has established a scholarship to provide financial assistance to eighth-grade students who plan to attend either his alma mater, Marquette University High School in Milwaukee or Divine Savior Holy Angels High School.

Daniels, the former two-tern Indiana governor, said he plans to attend Boldt’s funeral Mass on Tuesday. A university spokeswoman said today the school has begun the process to award Boldt a posthumous degree.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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