SKOWHEGAN — A Palmyra man charged with murder in the bludgeoning death of another man July 18 in Detroit is scheduled to make his first appearance in court on today.
Jason C. Cote, 22, of Hurd’s Corner Road, is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. in Somerset County Superior Court.
Cote, who also has a St. Albans address, is charged with murder in the death of 47-year-old Ricky Cole. The State Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that Cole died from blunt force trauma. His body was found July 18 in his mobile home at 24 Main St. in Detroit.
A lawyer will be appointed to represent Cote for the day Friday and Cote will be allowed to request a permanent court-appointed attorney.
Police so far are not offering details about the motive in the killing or what was used to kill Cole. A District Court clerk said Thursday there is no affidavit for Cote’s arrest on file yet at the court.
Cote is being held without bail at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison.
The 22-year-old has a short misdemeanor criminal record in Somerset County, including forgery, theft and failure to appear in court, according to court records.
Cote was arrested Wednesday night at the home of his grandmother in St. Albans, according to Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland. He had been staying with his brother on nearby Hurd’s Corner Road.
Doug Fernald, 64, who has lived on Main Street in Detroit most of his life, said the neighborhood has changed dramatically over the last 20 years as the economy dipped and jobs left the area.
“It used to be very close-knit; you knew everyone and were in each other’s homes,” Fernald said from the porch of his 1857 farmhouse. “Now, people move in and move out. It’s become very transient and you don’t know their names; you wave to them and that’s it.”
Fernald, a retired case worker for a career center, said families, including his own, lived in the same houses for generations in tiny Detroit, which the 2010 U.S. Census reports as having 852 residents.
He lived in the house with his mother until her death five years ago.
Fernald said traffic has increased on Main Street, but people seldom stop anymore.
“The houses you see now are empty and neglected; foreclosed upon, abandoned,” he said. “They were all family homes. The old families died, and now the people come and go.”
He said the mobile homes where the July 18 murder happened have been there for about 15 years. Fernald said he didn’t know Cote or Cole.
“I saw nothing suspicious,” he said.
Somerset County sheriff’s deputies and Pittsfield police officers were sent to the Main Street home just after 3 a.m. July 18 in response to a report that a man who was dead in his home, according to McCausland.
The State Police Major Crimes Unit investigated and declared the death suspicious. Investigators placed about a dozen yellow evidence markers in the middle of the yard as part of the investigation and cordoned off the area with yellow tape.
Cole’s body was removed about 10 a.m. that day.
A member of the State Police Evidence Response Team was seen July 18 leaving a mobile home on remote Dogtown Road in neighboring Palmyra and carrying paper shopping bags marked as evidence.
The home’s owner, David Lafleur, said at the time that a friend of his had stayed the night, but he wasn’t sure whether the friend was a suspect in the suspicious death.
Police also were seen interviewing a young man outside Lafleur’s rural mobile home that day. Lafleur said police removed a pair of pants, a shirt, sneakers and other items worn by the person they interviewed in connection with the Detroit death.
At his home again on Thursday, Lafleur declined to comment on the case.
Employees and shoppers at The Maine Store, a village market on Main Street, would not comment on what they had heard about the death or about the people who lived at 24 Main St.
In 2012, Cote pleaded guilty to misdemeanor forgery and operating while his license was suspended, both in Pittsfield. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail, all suspended, on the forgery charge and was ordered to pay $800 restitution. He also pleaded guilty to the motor vehicle charge and was fined $250.
Cote pleaded guilty to a theft charge in Palmyra in 2012 and was charged with failure to appear in court on a criminal summons. He was fined $200 on the theft charge. The failure-to-appear charge was dismissed.
In June 2012, Cote pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct and loud, unreasonable noise in Palmyra. He was fined $150.
Detroit home has a history
Police say 47-year-old Ricky Cole was murdered July 18 in the mobile home at 24 Main St. he was renting.
It isn’t the first time that address has been associated with a murder in Somerset County.
In 2011, Angelo Licata, then 34, pleaded guilty to the bludgeoning death of his father Alfred Licata, 63, in Cambridge.
Angelo Licata lived at the same address, according to Superior Court records of the case.
The Office of State Medical Examiner said the cause of the elder Licata’s death was blunt force trauma to the head.
Ricky Cole also died of blunt force trauma, according to the medical examiner, but police so far are not saying exactly how he died or what was used to kill him.
Jason Cote, 22, of Palmyra, is charged with Cole’s murder. Cote is scheduled to appear in court on Friday for his initial appearance on the murder charge.
Alfred Licata was found dead on a lawn near his home on Ham Hill Road the night of July 21, 2011. His wife, Arlene, told police she heard banging and yelling coming from the first floor of the house and found blood all over the kitchen.
She dialed 911 from a neighbor’s house and said she saw her son Angelo’s vehicle in the driveway.
Licata was sentenced to 30 years in prison on the murder conviction.
Last week, Somerset County sheriff’s deputies and Pittsfield police found Cole’s body when they were called just after 3 a.m. to the Main Street residence. The body was removed a few hours later.
The Main Street mobile home is one of two mobile homes separated by a two-bay garage on the property. The homes are about 50 yards off the road, directly across the street from the Detroit post office and beside the Detroit Heritage House, which is home to a church.
Doug Harlow — 612-2367