SKOWHEGAN — The day after Ricky Cole was found dead, Jason Cote told a friend that he had slit Cole’s throat with a metal pipe, the friend testified in Somerset County Superior Court Monday.

Cote, 25, of Palmyra, is charged with murder in the death of Cole, who was found dead in his mobile home on Main Street in Detroit in July 2013. Monday was the third day of the trial. Cote has pleaded not guilty.

Heidi Woodbury, who said she is a friend of Cote’s, testified Monday that on July 18, 2013, she asked Cote whether he had cut Cole from his neck to his groin, to which Cote responded, “No, I just slit his throat.”

The confession to Woodbury came the day after Cole made a phone call to her at around 5:30 p.m, in which he asked her to have Cote talk to him, she said.

She said she gave the message to Cote but wasn’t sure whether he ever met with Cole, whose body was discovered later that night by Amy Tarr and her boyfriend, David Lefleur. Tarr testified last week that they had picked up Cote on Main Street that night after he met with Cole.

Tarr and Lefleur were concerned about Cole’s well-being after Cote told them he did “something (expletive) up.”

Woodbury, of Pittsfield, said Monday that she got a phone call the following morning that Cole, who she said had been a drug dealer for both her and Cote, had died.

She called Cote and later that morning met with him in Newport, where they read news reports of Cole’s death at McDonald’s and later went to the Newport waterfront high on drugs to talk.

Cote told Woodbury that he had gone to Cole’s house the night before, where Cole bashed a metal pipe against a coffee table in an attempt to scare him.

It wasn’t the first time Cole had threatened Cote, according to Woodbury, who said that over the two years she had known Cole, she remembered him threatening to break Cote’s legs and saying that he killed people before and was not afraid to kill again.

He also talked seriously about an imaginary friend, Vern, who would tell him to hurt or kill people, Woodbury said. Others last week also testified that Cole used Vern as a threat against Cote.

Despite the threats, Cote continued to visit Cole and buy drugs from him, usually Ritalin, she said. Ritalin is a brand name for methylphenidate, which is a stimulant prescribed for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

At the time of his death, Cole was being investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for weapons charges and had recently posted a message on Facebook saying that if Cote didn’t “take the rap” for him he would go to jail.

Woodbury said she told Cote about the post because she was afraid of Cole.

“I feared Rick,” she said. “I wanted (Cote) to know everything I had seen.”

Similarly, she also told Cote about the phone call from Cole the night he died. In the call, Cole said that if Cote didn’t take the blame for the weapons charges, he would accuse him of manslaughter in relation to an accident they had been in, Woodbury said.

“He told me he needed to talk to Jason, not about money he owed him, just that he really needed to talk to him,” Woodbury said.

When she told Cote, he told her to tell Cole that he had been arrested and was in jail.

The following morning at the waterfront, Woodbury said that Cote never said he was afraid for his life or that he feared Cole would kill him, but he did say he felt he had to defend himself against Cole.

Cote’s attorneys, Caleb Gannon and Stephen Smith, have argued that Cote acted in self-defense in Cole’s death.

Woodbury said that when Cole made threats, “he looked serious.”

“He looked mad,” she said. “Looking at Rick would scare anybody. He’s cross-eyed and looks crazy. Anybody looking at him would think he’s crazy.”

Contrary to what Woodbury said, Cote told police in an interview after Cole was found dead that he had heard rumors about Cole’s death but that he did not know what happened.

“I wish I knew. I was asleep on the couch,” Cote told Maine State Police Detective Bryant Jacques in a recorded interview July 23, 2013. The interview was played for the court on Monday and contained a 37-minute discussion between Cote and Jacques in which Cote says repeatedly that he does not know what happened to Cole. He said he was there in the afternoon to mow Cole’s lawn the day he died and remembers seeing another person at the house, but he wasn’t sure who it was.

Jacques asks Cote about allegations he hit Cole with a metal pipe and Cote says, “I never said anything like that. I’ve never been in a fight with Ricky, not a physical one. He’s twice the size of me. Who’s going to win that fight? Certainly not me.”

When police arrived at Cole’s home the evening of July 17 and morning of July 18, they found a disheveled living room containing a damaged laptop, overturned coffee table and a pair of homemade nunchucks, according to testimony provided Monday by Jacques and other members of the Maine State Police.

Closeup photos of the porch leading to the entrance of the home showed what appeared to be blood stains leading up to the door.

Inside, photos presented by Assistant Attorney General Leanne Zainea and taken by Maine State Police showed a man — Cole — on the floor in the living room, wearing white socks, a blue striped shirt and boxer shorts.

Red and brown stains seen throughout the living room on the ceiling, floor and couch were confirmed by the Maine State Crime Laboratory to be human blood, according to forensic chemist Brandi Caron, also among Monday’s witnesses. DNA tests were conducted on the blood samples, the results of which were not shared with the court Monday.

Blood also appeared on the damaged laptop, the cover of an air conditioning unit that was on the ground and a cellphone case, Caron said. The laptop also appeared to have been damaged by the metal pipe, according to forensic scientist Robert Burns.

Police also recovered items of clothing from underneath a vacant trailer next to the mobile home that Cote lived in in Palmyra. Those items were also submitted to the crime lab, which confirmed the presence of human blood on the clothing and submitted them for DNA testing.

The trial continues Tuesday with additional witness testimony.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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