Man faces murder charge in girlfriend's shooting death

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Eric Coulter By Jennifer Thomas Eric Coulter By Jennifer Thomas
John Coulter By Jennifer Thomas John Coulter By Jennifer Thomas
Melissa Smith By Jennifer Thomas Melissa Smith By Jennifer Thomas

CHANDLER, Ariz. --  Chandler police arrested an 18-year-old man in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Eric Coulter is accused of shooting Monique Cota, 19, just after 1 a.m. Saturday at his family's home near 56th Street and Ray Road in Chandler.

Coulter’s father call 911 and reported that he was awakened by a gunshot and found Cota shot to death in another room, according to Chandler police Sgt. Joe Favazzo.

Coulter's dad told police that his son ran out of the room yelling, "It was an accident. I killed Monique. I killed Monique. I shot her in the head. I'm going to jail."

Coulter reportedly ran out of the home.

According to court documents, Coulter's sister took two firearms out of the bedroom and hid them.

Investigators following leads in the case were able to locate Coulter Saturday evening in a motel room in Mesa, Favazzo said. He was with his sister and older brother. All three were taken into custody.

Coulter claimed the shooting was an accident that happened as he was inspecting a rifle.

Coulter was booked on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. He is beling held on a $1 million bond.

Coulter's sister, Melissa Smith, was booked on charges of hindering prosecution, obstructing a criminal investigation and tampering with evidence. She is being held on a $5,000 bond.

His brother, John Coulter, was found with marijuana and a forgery device. According to court documents, he had two fraudulent New York ID cards with Eric's picture on them, marijuana and more than $2,000 in cash. He was booked on charges of forgery and possession of marijuana.

Neighbors said police had been out to the house several times before the shooting. 

Court documents stated the couple had a volatile relationship with a history of domestic violence. According to police reports, Coulter assaulted Cota as recently as Thursday, causing "bruising to her knees and an abrasion to her shoulder." 

Cota reportedly had told her mother that the violence was increasing and she was ending the relationship.

Cota's employer, Fry's grocery store in Awhatukee, is selling domestic violence ribbons, trying to raise money for the Cota family. Account information: MidFirst Bank; Cota Family Support Trust; Account # 2081017200.