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Fort Edward shooting victim’s father: It was murder

2012-07-10T16:35:00Z 2013-03-21T11:45:10Z Fort Edward shooting victim’s father: It was murderDON LEHMAN - dlehman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
July 10, 2012 4:35 pm  • 

FORT EDWARD -- The father of the 13-year-old boy shot and killed in his Fort Edward home said Tuesday he believes the other boy who was allegedly involved in the shooting should be charged with murder.

“I understand accidents happen in life. But there’s no possible way this was an accident,” Louis Cota said.

He said he believes the evidence shows the 13-year-old who was handling the gun intentionally pointed it at the face of his son, Gary Cota, even though his son was believed to have pushed the gun away seconds earlier and lectured him about pointing it at another person.

“After that point, there is no excuse for it,” he said.

The gun had a safety as well as firing mechanisms with its hammer that required three steps to be taken to prepare it to fire, Louis Cota said.

Louis Cota said his son was not handling the gun when it went off because the investigation has found he was sending a text message to a girl as he was shot. The gun was loaded with bird shot, and based on the pattern from the shot it was clear the gun was close to his son’s face, likely within a foot or so, Louis Cota said.

He said he and his wife had forbade their son from hanging out with the boy, but relented when told he was trying to straighten himself out.

Police have said they believed the shooting was accidental, but the investigation was not complete.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright said Tuesday he has not ruled out prosecuting the 13-year-old Fort Edward boy as an adult. He said he was waiting for results of forensic tests that could show who was handling the gun, and will help police determine what happened.

The boy’s lawyer, though, said Monday it was “ridiculous” to consider charging the teen as an adult instead of as a juvenile. The crime would not be on the child’s record if charged as a juvenile, and sentencing options for juveniles are not as severe as those for adults.

“If he’s going to be charged, it should be handled through Family Court,” lawyer Michael Keenan said.

Keenan’s comments were the first on behalf of the boy who survived the June 5 shooting that killed Cota in his Keating Avenue home.

Exactly what happened when a 12-gauge shotgun owned by Cota discharged in the home, killing the boy instantly, was still under investigation as of Tuesday.

His parents allowed him to have the gun, but did not believe there was any ammunition in the house for it. Fort Edward Police and State Police have been investigating where the single round that was in the gun came from.

The 13-year-old friend was in Cota’s bedroom with him, and his role in the shooting is still being determined.

Kortright said he has met with Fort Edward Police and the Washington County Attorney’s Office to discuss the case, and said whether charges will be filed, and where they will be filed, were still to be determined.

Scientific tests, including DNA tests, that are being done by State Police on the gun and shotgun shell will play an important part in the investigation, Kortright said.

“I’m interested to hear what the testing shows,” he said. “We’ll look at it all once the investigation is done.”

Fort Edward Police Sgt. Justin Derway said there was no timetable for completion of the tests.

Under state law, juveniles can only be prosecuted as adults for the most serious felonies, including murder, robbery and rape.

If convicted of one of these crimes as a juvenile, defendants are held in a juvenile detention center until they become adults, when they are transferred to prison to serve the remainder of their sentences.

Keenan said the boy was “deeply traumatized” by the shooting and did not intend to hurt his friend.

Police interviewed the 13-year-old the night of the shooting, but their efforts to talk to him again have been rebuffed.

Keenan said he will not allow his client to be questioned by police a second time. A followup interview by police would just be an effort to get him to deviate from his first statement, he said.

“He’s already made a statement,” he said. “It (a second interview) is not to reiterate facts. It’s to get someone to say something else.”

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. SGFmitch20
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    SGFmitch20 - July 15, 2012 12:55 pm
    This is wrong the father and mother should be charged. they got the weapon for their child. and should have had it under lock and key not were thier son could get it. this 13 year old boy shouldnt be charged. its the father who should. they had it were their son and his friend could get it. So i think arrest the father and charge him. not the boy.
  2. Gradplanningstudent
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    Gradplanningstudent - July 11, 2012 10:02 pm
    I think for once, I agree with Atheist. This is a terrible tragedy, and at this point it is all anyone is sure of. If the parents did in fact allow the child to have a gun in their room it is their choice and is part of teaching responsibility, for some families it's part of growing up. I think we need to see if the bullet was brought into the home, and even then, can we really be sure the other child pulled the trigger on purpose? If we could ever be sure of that then yes, the child should be held liable according to the law, family court or criminal. The father and mother are not liable here and everyone, including the father should be quiet until the facts are out about this case. Let the police do their job.
  3. SalM
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    SalM - July 11, 2012 3:55 pm
    The parent's should be charge with child endangerment. Part of owning a gun is taking responsibility for it. The parents allowed him to have the gun, but did not ensure that the gun was locked up so they are ultimately responsible for their child's death. The other boy did not bring the gun into the house the parents did. "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" is a cop out. "People" have to make the gun available as well as pull the trigger, your logic makes the parents just as guilty as the boy. I feel sorry for the families loss, but I also feel sorry for the boy who, because of the negligence of the Cota's, must spend the rest of his life dealing with this. As a responsible gun owner, I would NEVER allow a gun in my house unless it was locked up in a gun case. Ammunition should NEVER be in the gun until you are in the designated area for hunting or target practice. A child or young adult should ONLY have access to a gun when supervised by an experienced adult.
  4. Lola245
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    Lola245 - July 11, 2012 11:16 am
    I am shocked to be reading this, Mr. Cota truly if you want justice and have this other boy charged with murder you should go turn yourself in now for the same murder. Why on Gods Earth was a GUN in your sons room! This was a terrible accident that could have been prevented.
  5. Atheist1
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    Atheist1 - July 11, 2012 8:44 am
    I do believe that a cable lock on the gun should have been used though.
  6. Atheist1
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    Atheist1 - July 11, 2012 8:43 am
    Law states that we are allowed a rifle/shotgun at ages 12. There is no fault on the parents side at all. Guns don't kill people, people kill people. If you think guns kill then pencils plagerize. Just about anything can be used as a dangerous weapon. Get past the gun ignorance.
  7. gfdann
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    gfdann - July 10, 2012 9:19 pm
    I cannot imagine this Father's grief. Parents if you have guns in the house lock them up!! A 13 should never have had unsupervised access to a deadly weapon loaded or unloaded. A terrible tragedy.
  8. Galaxyboy3000
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    Galaxyboy3000 - July 10, 2012 6:39 pm
    Horrifying, if true. But of course anyone who allowed children access to firearms, or through inaction allowed such access to occur, must also be held responsible for a death of this kind. More than one person should be going to prison here, if indeed the shooter acted deliberately.

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