An Arizona man with a history of domestic violence on Monday was found guilty of killing his girlfriend by shooting her in the head with a military-style assault rifle.
After less than three days of deliberations, a Maricopa County Superior Court jury found Eric Coulter, 20, guilty of manslaughter for the 2011 slaying of 18-year-old Monique Cota, according to the Arizona Republic. Coulter had been charged with second-degree murder, but maintained that the shooting had been accidental.
Investigators said that Coulter had a history of assaulting Cota in what was described as a "volatile" relationship. Cota had told family members that she had planned to move to California to live with a childhood friend, who she had gotten engaged to shortly before her death.
But on Oct. 15, 2011, Coulter’s father called police to tell them that Cota had been shot and was likely dead. Coulter told his father that he was trying to show his girlfriend that his AR-15 rifle was unloaded when the gun discharged, shooting her just above her left eye.
Police caught up with Coulter the next day in Mesa motel with cash and several fake New York IDs.
The New York Times reported on Monday that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other pro-gun lobbying groups had been working to prevent laws that would force firearms to be surrendered in cases where a protective order was issued for domestic violence. In Arizona, people placed under a restraining order can only be forced to surrender their weapons if a judge specifically orders it.
"Over and over again, anti-domestic violence activists and legislators try to make it harder for men who have a hankering to kill their wives from arming themselves to do so, and over and over again, the NRA throws a fit and makes sure the sacred right of a man to control a woman through violence is protected," Pandagon's Amanda Marcotte pointed out on Tuesday.
"At stake here is whether or not states should be able to seize the guns of people who have restraining orders filed against them. The common sense answer is yes, as restraining orders aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on if there isn’t any attempt to actually, you know, restrain the violent person from acting violently towards his victim."
Watch this video from KNXV, broadcast Oct. 17, 2011.
[Ed note: Amanda Marcotte's blog, Pandagon, is hosted by Raw Story Media but maintains separate editorial control from Raw Story.]