Chandler man accused in girlfriend's shooting death - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Chandler man accused in girlfriend's shooting death

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Posted: Saturday, October 15, 2011 11:20 pm

A Chandler man wanted for questioning in connection with his girlfriend's death early Saturday was arrested hours later in Mesa.

Chandler police spokesman Sgt. Joseph Favazzo said in an email to the media Saturday night that detectives were planning to book 18-year-old Eric Coulter in a Maricopa County jail as a suspect in the shooting death of Monique Cota, 19.

Police say Coulter ran from his home in the 600 block of north McKemy Avenue after his father was awoken by the sound of a gun shortly after 1 a.m. and got up to find Cota on the floor dead from a gunshot wound. Police K-9 units from Chandler and Mesa combed the area in the early stages of the investigation.

Along with Coulter police arrested his brother John and sister Melissa Smith in a Mesa motel room about 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Investigators believe Smith tampered with evidence before police arrived, and John Coulter is suspected of having marijuana and a device used for forgery, police said.

Investigators say Coulter had assaulted Cota in an earlier incident.

Coulter claimed the shooting was an accident that occurred as he was inspecting an AR-15 rifle. Police say Coulter's sister then hid guns that were in the house and drove Eric Coulter to the motel room in Mesa.

Eric Coulter's bond was set at $1 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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