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Throw Momma from the Train, the 1987 film featuring Danny Devito‘s character agreeing to kill Billy Crystal‘s ex-wife (over the authorship of a book) in return for Crystal killing Devito’s mother, is definitely not a full-proof plan for murder without punishment.
So much is clear from a ruling on Wednesday by a Tennessee appeals court that affirms the first degree murder conviction of Timothy Roy Bozza for the death of Victoria Bozza, a music video producer who worked on the 2009 CMT Music Awards.
Bozza didn’t physically hold the gun that killed the woman he was about to divorce. No, that would be Coy Cotham.
But in Bozza’s interviews with the law enforcement officials investigating the case, he acknowledged suggesting to Cotham that they do a “crisscross” killing for each other. The idea, which Bozza told police came from Throw Momma from the Train, was delivered on the same day that Bozza had been in divorce court over the custody of his nine-year-old son. Bozza insisted that it was in jest, but he says a couple days after he discussed the “crisscross” plot, Cotham offered him $10,000 to kill a guy Cotham wanted murdered.
In interviews with police, Bozza said he had pointed out to Cotham where to find his wife, that he “had a feeling” about what would happen, but didn’t think Cotham would go through with it because Cotham had followed his wife on earlier occasions without harm. He denied needing to know when the murder was to take place so he could establish an alibi.
Victoria Bozza had a $550,000 life insurance policy, and Timothy was a beneficiary while the two were still married. The couple were under a court order to maintain at least a $350,000 life insurance policy, and just three days after she was killed, he filed a claim. According to the appellate decision, there were various points where Cotham requested money — specifically $35,000 on one occasion, which Bozza denied being because it represented 10 percent of the insurance money.
Eventually, there was enough evidence to arrest and convict Cotham, who is serving a life sentence without parole, but on appeal, Bozza challenged the sufficiency of the evidence against him personally.
The appeals court points to the disagreement between the Bozzas, the discussion of the crisscross murder scenario, cell phone records showing Bozza and Cotham having discussions on the date of the killing, a witness’ testimony that the two were planning on going to Barbados soon, a Facebook posting by Cotham after the murder in which he was said he was expecting a “sweet paycheck for the big man,” and more.
But wait, Bozza didn’t actually shoot his wife!
“The Defendant asserts that no physical evidence connects him to the crime scene. Although his assertion is factually correct, it is not determinative because the State’s theory did not require proof that the Defendant participated in the actual homicide. The evidence shows, and the Defendant did not contest at the trial, that Mr. Cotham killed the victim. We conclude upon review of the facts that a rational trier of fact could find beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant was criminally responsible for Mr. Cotham’s unlawful, premeditated, and intentional killing of the victim.”
Here’s the full ruling. The Throw Momma from the Train gambit didn’t work.
For the record, and we believe there’s a statute of limitations on giving away spoilers, it turns out Devito didn’t actually kill Crystal’s wife to get him to kill Devito’s mother, which ends up not happening either for a reason that only happens in the movies. Also for the record, Throw Momma from the Train was actually inspired by Alfred Hitchcock‘s much superior Strangers on a Train. Finally for the record, copyright infringement doesn’t pay.
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