A California teen who researched how to pin a murder on someone else received a life sentence Monday in connection with the death of his father and his brother.
Robert Cotter, 19, was found guilty by a Fresno jury of murdering his father, Patrick Cotter, 53, and his brother, 15-year-old Brian Cotter. On May 17, 2021, Fresno police found the victims with gunshot wounds inside a mobile home inside the Villa Fresno Mobile Home Park.
Prosecutors said the defendant took extra care to research how to pin the murder on his younger brother. Two months after the incident, police arrested Cotter after his Internet searches revealed his detailed planning.
“He called 911 and he blamed his murders as a murder-suicide perpetrated by his 15-year-old brother with autism spectrum disorder,” prosecutor Daniel Walters said, ABC 30 reports.
Cotter’s defense attorney Emily Takao argued that the defendant grew up in a violent, volatile household and had “indications of mental illness in this offense,” Fresno Bee reports.
“He did not have control of the situation in which he was growing up,” Takao added.
Although the prosecution acknowledged the defendant’s tumultuous childhood, Walters said Cotter’s planning in advance showed that this was not a rash act, including the decision to kill his younger brother, who he pulled “back by the collar” and “shot…in the head.”
The judge agreed.
“I don’t know what his issue was with his father that caused him to want to commit homicide, but to execute his brother?” Judge James Kelley said. “It was cold-blooded murder of a kid that had done nothing wrong.”
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[Featured image: Police Handout]