SKOWHEGAN — The night Ricky Cole was killed, Jason Cote told two friends “I did something (expletive) up and can’t talk about it,” one of the friends testified Friday morning in Somerset County Superior Court.

Cote, 25, of Palmyra, is charged with murder in the bludgeoning death of Cole, 47, in July 2013 in Cole’s mobile home on Main Street in Detroit. Cote has pleaded not guilty to the charge, which carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted.

Cole was found bludgeoned to death about 3 a.m. July 18, 2013. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded that Cole died from blunt force trauma. Cole had a fractured skull, extensive blood loss and deep internal injuries, according to the autopsy.

Amy Tarr, of Palmyra, testified Friday morning that she and her boyfriend, David Lefleur, picked up Cote about 9 p.m. on July 17, 2013, on Main Street, near where Cole lived, and took Cote to his home on Hurd’s Corner Road in Palmyra. Cote then shed his clothing and went into his house wearing only boxer shorts, Tarr said.

Police later found Cote’s clothing stuffed beneath a vacant mobile home next to his house. DNA samples lifted from the clothing matched DNA from an oral swab taken from Cote and from blood taken during Cole’s autopsy, prosecutors say.

Tarr, Lefleur and Cote, now in a new set of clothing, then went to Lefleur and Tarr’s home, where Cote spent the night.

Tarr and Lefleur, however, were concerned about Cote’s statement that he had done “something (expletive) up,” so they “bounced out of bed” in the middle of the night and went to Cole’s trailer, Tarr testified Friday.

“We felt like something happened and we want to check on Rick’s well-being,” she told the jury.

Lefleur knocked on Cole’s door and when there was no response, he pushed the door open, looked inside and saw Cole’s body, and they rushed off to call police.

Lefleur met with police and Tarr went home, where Cote was sleeping on their couch. When Cote woke up, Tarr testified, “I said ‘What did you do to Rick? What the (expletive)?’ He said ‘I hit him with a pipe.'”

Tarr told the jury that Cote did not say why he had hit Cole with the pipe and did not mention that he had to defend himself, as Cote’s attorneys have tried to show.

Under cross-examination Friday by defense attorney Stephen Smith, Tarr said Cole would belittle Cote and threaten him.

Tarr said Cole’s “favorite threat,” one he would issue to Cote, as well as to others, was, “I’ll kill you. I’ll bury you up in Medway.”

She said she heard Cole also had threatened to break Cote’s legs.

Tarr’s testimony came on the second day of Cote’s murder trial. Cote arrived at court from the county jail Friday without the beard he’d worn since court proceedings began Monday, and was wearing a necktie for the first time this week.

Prosecutor Leanne Zainea, an assistant attorney general, called Maine State Police Detective Bryant Jacques, the primary investigator in Cole’s murder, to the stand late Friday morning.

Jacques told the jury he went to a home on Dogtown Road early on the morning of July 18, 2013, where he met first with Lefleur, and soon after with Cote, and began recording an interview that lasted more than three hours. That recording was played for the court Friday afternoon in its entirety.

On the recording, Cote recounts for Jacques what he had done the previous day, which included mowing the lawn in front of the trailer where Cole lived; and later, he says, he went fishing.

As the detective continues to ask Cote questions, the defendant’s answers begin to conflict with what police had been told by others, including Lefleur earlier that morning.

“What’s going on?” Cote asks Jacques. “I’m just wondering — four cops here.”

Jacques assures Cote that he is not under arrest and that anything he says in Jacques’ cruiser was voluntary. Cote’s statements on what he was wearing the day before differed from what later was produced as evidence. His story changed, the times of his activities change, and who he was with, as Jacques circles back, asking the same questions two or three more times.

Finally, Jacques tells Cote that “there’s been a death. Ricky is no longer with us.”

Cote says he was shocked and denies any involvement, but he tells Jacques he has been threatened by Cole.

“Rick is always threatening to shoot people,” Cote is heard saying. “He threatened to break my legs with a pipe before.”

At no time during the recorded interview does Cote confess. There is no mention of an argument with Cole on the recording, no mention of a disagreement over drugs or money or any mention of an imaginary friend that Cole had in a black box, which was part of Thursday’s testimony.

“I’ve never hit him and I never told anybody that I did, because I didn’t,” Cote tells Jacques.

Also testifying Friday was Michaela Dumont, 18, the girlfriend of Cote’s brother Joshua Cote. Dumont said she and the two Cotes were living together on Hurd’s Corner Road in Palmyra in 2013 when Cole was murdered. She told the jury under cross-examination by Smith that Cole thought Cote “always owed him money for drugs.”

“Rick carried a pretty big knife,” Dumont testified Friday. She said she heard “Rick threaten Jason if he didn’t bring money he would break his legs several times.” She said Cole’s voice “was raised and very persistent,” and Cote was scared.

In testimony Thursday, Cote’s defense team attempted to portray Cote as a man who feared Cole and acted in self defense against a much larger and possibly psychotic man. His attorneys said Cole had an imaginary friend who lived in a black box and identified people Cole should hurt, and sometimes murder, as a potential window on Cole’s state of mind, which Cote feared.

The case against Cote includes allegations of drug use. Police say Cote snorted methadone and Xanax on July 17, 2013, at a friend’s home on Dogtown Road in Palmyra, according to the court affidavit. He was dropped off later at Cole’s residence, allegedly to get more drugs.

The pipe prosecutors said was used in the murder was something Cole always kept near him in the living room of the Detroit home. Prosecutors Thursday showed jurors a photo of Cole in his living room, where the pipe was visible in the background. State police dive team members later found the pipe in a pond near Cole’s trailer on Main Street in Detroit.

The pipe was displayed as evidence in the case on Thursday.

Zainea told the jury Thursday that self-defense was hardly the case when Cole’s head was on the floor as he was stomped and beaten by Cote.

Cote also had been involved in conversations with Cole about “taking the rap” for guns that were found in Cole’s previous home, which had burned. Cole prohibited from possessing firearms.

Proceedings began Monday with pre-trial motions. The trial is scheduled to resume Monday morning in Somerset County Superior Court.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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