Clay City man gets 40 years for homicide, robbery

May 10—A Clay City man accused of beating another man in Terre Haute with an aluminum ball bat and causing his death was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison on manslaughter and robbery charges.

Nathan W. Epple, 29, was sentenced in Vigo Superior Court 5, Judge Matthew Sheehan presiding.

Epple had been charged with felony murder in the death of Jeffrey S. Cottrell as the homicide was committed during a robbery. He also faced a charge of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and resisting law enforcement.

The charges stemmed from a Sept. 27, 2019, incident in which Cottrell told police he was beaten on the head with a bat. He also told police his cell phone, five knives and a bag were taken by a young man from his home on 14th Street.

Cottrell was able to go to the city police station to report the incident before he was taken to Union Hospital for treatment. Cottrell's condition declined, and he died two days later.

In the beating of Cottrell, Epple pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter, a Level 2 felony, and robbery resulting in serious injury, also a Level 2 felony, according to the Vigo County Prosecutor's Office. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison on that case.

In a separate case, he pleaded guilty to two counts of armed robbery, a Level 3 felony, and received a 10 year sentence.

The two sentences are to run consecutively, or back-to-back, for a total of 40 years.

Epple can request a modification of his sentence with 10 years remaining. The state may object to any sentence modification at that time.

"I would like to express our sympathies to the friends and family of Jeffrey Cottrell for this horrible crime and hope that this sentence will allow them to move forward in their grieving knowing the criminal case is closed," Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said in a statement.

"We commend Detective Devon Huebner, Sgt. Troy Davis (retired) and the other members of the Terre Haute Police Department involved in this investigation for their diligent and detailed work that allowed us to successfully prosecute this case and send Mr. Epple to prison for a very long time."