Eric Coulter Claims He Accidentally Shot Former Girlfriend in the Face

Eric Coulter, 18, fatally shot his former girlfriend in the face early Saturday morning. According to Coulter, it was an accident, which police find highly unlikely for a number of reasons.

For starters, his explanation of how the gun "accidentally" went off makes no sense. Then there's the fact that the victim, 19-year-old Monique Cota, had recently broken off the nearly three-year relationship and had since gotten engaged to another man. Not to mention, the two have a history of beating each other up.

According to court douments obtained by New Times, Cota was in Coulter's bedroom in his parents' home at 622 North Mckemy Avenue in Chandler about 1:10 a.m. Saturday, where Coulter allegedly shot her in the face.

Prior to going to Coulter's house, Cota had been at the home of a friend when she received a phone call, presumably from Coulter. She left the friend's house in a hurry without saying who had just called her.

After the shooting, Coulter burst out of the room and told his family that he'd killed his former girlfriend.

"It was an accident. I killed Monique. I killed Monique," Coulter told his father and sister after shooting Cota. "I shot her in the head. I'm going to jail."

Coulter's family claims he then ran out of the house.

After Coulter left, police later determined, his family tried to cover up the crime scene. According to police, his sister, Melissa Smith, took several firearms out of Coulter's room and hid them in a neighbor's bush.

She then tracked down Coulter and took him to a Motel 6 in Mesa.

While at the motel, Coulter and his sister watched the media coverage of the shooting and discussed what had happened. Coulter told his sister he was "inspecting the gun," an AR-15/M16 rifle, when he pulled the charging handle and bolt back several times to show Cota that it was empty. According to Coulter, as he was doing this, the gun discharged, and Cota ended up with a bullet in her face.

Police, however, say the story "doesn't seem feasible" because "cycling the bolt would extract the cartridge and not cause it to fire.

In addition to the story about the gun's accidental discharge, Coulter and Cota have a history of domestic violence that Cota told her mother was growing increasingly violent.

In October of last year, the two were each arrested for domestic violence disorderly conduct  after they got into a fight at Coulter's parents' house.

About a month ago, following another fight, Cota got a text message from Coulter telling her not to drive her car. She drove it anyway -- and it broke down. To repair it, Cota had to get a new engine. She later found out Coulter had tampered with it.

After the incident with the car, Cota told her mother her relationship with Coulter was over for good. She made arrangements to move to California, and got a job at a Domino's pizza restaurant. She'd also rekindled a relationship with a former boyfriend, and the two became engaged on Thursday.

Police found Coulter at the Motel 6 about 6:45 p.m. Saturday. His sister and brother, John Coulter, were also in the motel. John Coulter, police discovered when they entered the motel, was in posession of two fake New York identification cards with his brother's picture on them, $2,000 in cash, and some marijuana

All three were arrested.

Smith was booked on one count each of hindering prosecution, obstructing a criminal investigation and tampering with evidence.

John Coulter was booked on one count each of marijuana possession and forgery.

Eric Coulter was hit with one count each of second-degree murder, and manslaughter. He's being held on a $1 million bond.

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James King
Contact: James King