Former pastor charged with double murder testifies at trial

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A neighborhood feud that spanned more than a decade ended in 2020 with a Las Vegas pastor shooting a 71-year-old woman and her boyfriend in the head.

On June 25, 2020, Andrew Cote pulled his shotgun from the kitchen cupboard, entered his garden and shot over the wall marking his property line, killing his neighbor, Mildred Olivo, and her boyfriend. , Timothy Hanson, 54, prosecutors mentioned. Côté, a former pastor of the Mountain View Baptist Church, testified for more than four hours Wednesday during his murder trial, telling jurors he was afraid of his neighbor.

“You certainly recognize that there were things you could have done other than shooting them both with a 12-gauge shotgun, don’t you?” Chief Assistant District Attorney Pamela Weckerly asked Cote.

“You mean like doing jumping jacks?” Côté replied sarcastically.

Côté, 38, faces two murder charges. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating on a verdict Thursday morning.

Troubles between Côté’s family and Olivo began in 2009, when he moved into his home near Smoke Ranch Road and Decatur Boulevard, he said. Over the years, the two neighbors called the police on each other and asked for restraining orders. Côté told jurors that shortly after he and his wife moved in, Olivo threatened to shoot his wife.

Côté said that on the night of the shooting, he heard Hanson screaming outside and grabbed his shotgun because he was scared. When he saw his then 9-year-old daughter in the garden, he came out and shot Hanson, then Olivo, then Hanson again.

During his testimony on Wednesday, Cote admitted he had no intention of speaking to Hanson when he walked out of his house.

“I think if your daughter is swimming in the ocean and you see there’s a swimming shark, you’re going to jump in the water with no intention of having conversations with the shark,” said Rating to the prosecutor.

Defense attorney Michael Sanft compared Olivo’s treatment of Côté to the “torture” that has slowly accumulated over more than a decade. He said a reasonable person in Côté’s position could have acted in self-defense.

“What do you think a reasonable person would do by stepping out of his house to defend his little girl?” Sanft said during oral argument.

Calls for animal control

Cote told the jury that her problems with Olivo began in 2009 when her one-year-old Chihuahua, Princess, went missing. Côté said Olivo had asked to keep the dog in the past and assumed she had stolen it.

Animal Control had received several reports about Cote’s pets over the years, and Cote said he believed Olivo was making the calls.

After Olivo rejected Cote’s attempts to get Olivo to attend his church, Cote told the jury he found torn photos of Jesus on his porch. At one point, Olivo hung a white banner reading “Satan” from his back porch, which faced the Côté courtyard, Sanft said.

Côté said he previously reported Olivo to police after taking a screen used to sift dirt from her yard, and that she was convicted of petty larceny. A fence had been erected between the two houses and Cote said Olivo would throw trash in his garden.

Cote said he began filming interactions with Olivo and installed a surveillance system to monitor Olivo when she was away from home.

“She’s always had eyes on my property and who comes and goes,” Côté said.

On the afternoon of June 25, Côté said he was filming Olivo as she watered plants in her yard, and Olivo doused him and his daughter with a hose.

Côté told jurors he called the police because he believed Olivo was violating a restraining order. Côté said the police told him “it’s only water”.

That night, Côté said he heard screams coming from outside the house. He said he had recognized Hanson’s voice from previous arguments.

Côté said Hanson was yelling at his daughter, “Baby girl, fetch your daddy, bring your daddy here.”

Hanson stood on the other side of the wall separating the two courtyards. Côté said he came out with his semi-automatic shotgun, and Hanson called him, “Oh, you got a gun, huh?”

Sanft argued that Côté thought the gun would make Hanson leave him alone, but he was threatened when Hanson didn’t seem to care about the gun.

“When Mr. Côté came out with this gun, he prayed not to use it,” Sanft said.

Deputy Chief District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo said during closing arguments that although Olivo and Cote acted like “giant babies” while neighbors, Cote was not justified in the murders.

“Yes, the system failed in the sense of its ability to intervene between Mildred Olivo and Andrew Cote’s issues,” DiGiacomo said. “The system will fail again if you let it get less than first degree murder for both.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at [email protected] or 702-383-0240. To follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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