Eric Coulter Found Guilty of Fatally Shooting Ex-Girlfriend With "Military-Style Assault Rifle"

A Chandler man who claimed he "accidentally" shot his ex-girlfriend in the head with a rifle in 2011 was found guilty yesterday of manslaughter.

Eric Coulter, who was 18 at the time, killed his ex-girlfriend Monique Cota with what the Maricopa County Attorney's Office calls a "military-style assault rifle."

See also:
-Eric Coulter Claims He Accidentally Shot Former Girlfriend in the Face

According to court documents previously obtained by New Times, Cota was in killed in Coulter's bedroom in his parents' home at in Chandler shortly after 1 a.m. on October 15, 2011.

"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 ran from the house, and hid at a Motel 6 in Mesa, where his sister met up with him.

Coulter told his sister he was "inspecting the gun," described as an AR-15/M16 rifle, as he was trying to show Cota it was empty. Instead, Coulter said the gun discharged, and the bullet went into Cota's face.

In court documents, police said Coulter's explanation "[didn't] seem feasible."

In addition, police noted the turbulent relationship Coulter and Cota had.

Almost exactly a year before the shooting, both of them were jailed for domestic violence after getting into a fight with each other.

It just so happened that Cota had just gotten engaged to another guy two days before she was shot.

Cota had told her mother that she'd gotten engaged to the man, a childhood friend, and she was moving to California to go be with him.

A jury seemed to find this stuff to be too much to overcome, and convicted him on the manslaughter charge, although the jury convicted him of the lesser charge -- he was also facing a charge of second-degree murder.

Still Coulter faces a possible prison term of seven to 21 years at his April 26 sentencing, according to information from the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

James King contributed to this post.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley