A Texas man who blamed his girlfriend’s death on a drug-fueled sex encounter that saw her slip in the shower and strike her head was sentenced to 50 years in prison on Wednesday, with prosecutors successfully arguing that her death was anything but accidental.
28-year-old Jason Lowe will spend the next five decades behind bars for the murder of 27-year-old Jessie Bardwell, whose decomposing body was found in a rural area northeast of Dallas last year, the Dallas Morning News reported.
Earlier this week, Lowe testified that he and Bardwell had taken a common date rape drug called GHB and were having sex in the shower when he slipped and fell into her, causing her to strike her head on the wall and on the edge of the bathtub.
Instead of calling 911, he claimed, the couple supposedly went to bed. When he woke up the next morning, Lowe claimed, Bardwell had already died.
“It’s a tragedy, not murder,” said defense attorney Maria Tu during closing arguments on Tuesday.
The prosecutors painted a very different picture of Bardwell’s death. They pointed to a heap of incriminating evidence that was uncovered during the investigation, including signs that Bardwell’s body was stored in the back of Lowe’s SUV for several days and the strong odor of decaying flesh that police smelled in Lowe’s garage.
When they found Bardwell’s body, it was wrapped in a blue fitted sheet tied with a red strap, then covered in bubble wrap, and the mat from Lowe’s SUV’s cargo area. While her remains were too decomposed for the medical examiner to determine a cause of death, the case was ruled a homicide because of how she disappeared and where her body was found.
In victim impact statements, Bardwell’s parents said that their only daughter “had a smile that could light up a room.” They also claimed that Lowe had forced Bardwell to cut ties with her loved ones in the weeks and months leading up to her death.