In the early morning hours of September 29, 2012, campus police found Alexandra Kogut dead in her dorm room, the victim of blunt force trauma. Her boyfriend, 21-year-old hockey star Clayton Whittemore, was charged with second degree murder after allegedly beating her to death after a series of “silly arguments.” The belligerent beau allegedly admitted to killing her according to the criminal felony complaint but later pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Sweden Town Court. Slowly, Whittemore’s violent history has come to light, and Kogut responded with one last eerie tweet before her death, “I should have known.”
On Friday May 30, a twelve person jury, mostly men, found a Whittemore guilty of murder in the second-degree. Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley is asking for the maximum penalty, which is 25 years to life behind bars. Judge Doyle has scheduled the sentencing for July 15.
Whittemore was indicted for second degree murder by a New York Grand Jury. Second degree murder is what lawyers typically call a “heat of passion” killing, that is, the homicide was not planned out and happened as a result of a fight. Prosecutors will not need to prove that Whittemore had a motive, merely that he and Kogut argued and he reacted by beating her fiercely.
Second degree murder carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Sentences of 25 years are considered within the normal range for a crime like this.
For almost a year, the romance played out on Twitter in a series of affectionate, innocent Tweets. Their friends thought they were happy in their long-distance relationship. Their respective colleges were only three hours away from each other, and as soon as school started, Clayton Whittemore, 21, was planning to drive out to visit his girlfriend, Alexandra Kogut, 18.
In early September she tweeted: “So excited for @Whittemore21 to come to Brockport Saturday and bring me half moons.” He responded “Not if I eat them all first yummm.” Kogut then responded “You better not eat my half moons or tomato pie!!!!”
The two had attended high school together in New Hartford, New York. Whittemore was the star hockey player, a role he also embraced at Utica College in New York. Kogut was also involved in high school athletics on the school swim team.
On August 23, just before the semester started, Kogut “favorited” a tweet by Whittemore that read “You might be leaving physically but you will still be right here in my heart.”
According to law enforcement and New York prosecutors, however, at some point this sweet college romance turned cold and deadly.
Perhaps her final Tweet – “should have known” – is a clue, although little is known about the precise circumstances surrounding Kogut’s death.
Kogut’s mother called campus police the night before she was found, saying that she had not heard from her daughter in some time. The officers went to her dorm room to investigate and found her beaten to death. There was no question that Kogut was murdered.
Campus Police Chief Robert Kehoe said that the injuries were mostly focused on her upper body. A weapon has not been identified; and Kogut’s time of death has been narrowed down to sometime between 1 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.
“It’s tragic when anyone loses their life,” said Robert Kehoe of the Brockport Campus Police. “When a young lady who’s a college student and apparently in a safe environment is brutally murdered as this young lady was, it’s certainly a tragedy for her family and friends and the entire Brockport college community.”
An hour after Kogut was found dead, Whittemore was arrested at a rest stop on the New York State Thruway, about 100 miles east of Brockport’s campus.
Whittemore was charged with second degree murder. He pleaded not guilty at his Oct. 25, 2012 arraignment in Sweden Town Court, but prosecutors alleged in the complaint that he admitted to killing Kogut in a statement made to the police.
According to the criminal complaint, Whittemore told a sheriff’s deputy that he “just snapped,” and beat Kogut with her curling iron and his fists following an argument over “stupid stuff.”
Kogut was remembered by her family, friends and community at her funeral, October 4, in her hometown of New Hartford, New York. Purple ribbons, signifying domestic violence awareness, draped the trees outside the church. Purple was also Kogut’s favorite color.
Update: On Friday May 30, a twelve person jury, mostly men, found a Clayton Whittemore, 21, guilty of murder in the second-degree for the murder of his 18-year-old girlfriend Alexandra Kogut in her SUNY Brockport dorm room. Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley is asking for the maximum penalty, which is 25 years to life behind bars. Judge Doyle has scheduled the sentencing for July 15.
Christian Gerhartsreiter – A German immigrant and con man who posed for decades as a member of the Rockefeller family.
Jeffrey Denner – Gerhartsreiter’s Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer.
Reigh Storrow Mills Boss – Gerhartsreiter’s daughter whom he kidnapped. Gerhartsreiter nicknamed her Snooks, and by all accounts was a devoted father.
Sandra Mills Boss – Gerharsreiter’s wife of 12 years, a prominent executive.
John Sohus – The alleged homicide victim, a San Marino, California man who, along with his wife, mysteriously disappeared in 1985 and whose remains were discovered almost a decade later.
Danielle Menard – Gerhartsreiter’s defense attorney in the California case.
Clayton Whittemore 911 Call
College Romance Takes An Abusive And Deadly Turn
One of the things we noticed while we were first reading about this case is that Clayton Whittemore never smiles. We could not find a single picture of him smiling, not even his school pictures. For all the crazy defendants we get who are grinning broadly in their mugshots, Whittemore just seems cold and aloof. Now, that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily guilty – but his own statements about his guilt probably speak for themselves.
Given that Whittemore allegedly admitted that he killed Kogut, his defenses are fairly limited if the facts as alleged in the indictment are true. Getting around Whittemore’s jailhouse confession may be an insurmountable task for his defense lawyers, especially if Whittemore was read his Miranda rights (you know all about them from television: “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you . . .”).
Once you have been arrested, the tape recorders are on. And if Whittemore was talking about killing Kogut while in custody, that will definitely be part of the case against him.
His lawyers may try to argue for a lesser charge and a plea bargain. Without a motive other than a fight over what Whittemore called “stupid stuff,” prosecutors may not be able to prove that Whittemore intended to kill his girlfriend.
That lack of specific intent to kill Kogut might allow Whittemore to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter. Even a manslaughter charge carries the steep prison sentence of 15 years to 25 years in New York state prison, however.