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Thread: Man said killing was in defense

  1. #1
    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    The "I thought the guy had a gun" basis for shooting seems to be coming up more and more in my non-scientific sampling ofSD cases.

    This one seems a little shaky for the shooter. Hard to tell. But it was over in "a blink."

    Reports: Man said killing was in defense[/b]

    By Nancy L. Othón
    South Florida Sun-Sentinel

    May 7, 2007

    Jose Tapanes faces life in prison if convicted on charges of shooting and killing a 19-year-old man who had just become his newest neighbor in Royal Palm Beach.

    But according to Tapanes, he was protecting himself when he grabbed his double-barrel shotgun that morning on his doorstep, facing a drunk and irate Christopher Cote in the early morning hours of Sept. 17.

    Cote died of a shotgun wound to the abdomen. Another bullet grazed him in the chest. His mother and her fiancé, hovering nearby, heard the shots and immediately ran to Cote's aid, yelling at Tapanes not to shoot.

    Repeatedly, Tapanes insisted that Cote had a gun and that he had no choice but to shoot, according to recently released court documents.

    "I wasn't really mad. I just saw the gun on his hand, and I seen movement, and I think I didn't have a chance," Tapanes said. "I wasn't mad. I was protecting myself. ..."

    Public Defender Carey Haughwout declined to comment on Tapanes, but she is expected to present a self-defense case.

    Deputies never found a gun. Toxicology reports show Cote, who relatives said drank about three beers as he unloaded the family's moving van, had a blood alcohol level of .12 percent.

    Investigators' interviews with residents on or near Mango Boulevard show many of Tapanes' neighbors thought the 62-year-old man was a little eccentric but not necessarily violent. He worried that Osama bin Laden lived nearby. He went through people's trash, taking items home.

    Everyone interviewed agreed that Tapanes had a deep love of animals. He kept as many as 60 animals at his home, including dogs, roosters, chickens and ducks. Once, Tapanes asked a neighbor to let him keep some ducklings in the neighbor's backyard because the mother duck had died and they had outgrown his bathtub. He didn't mow his grass because he didn't want to kill any snakes, one neighbor said.

    "We always got along, but we always knew he was wacky," said Susan Taylor.

    Tapanes didn't just treasure his pets, he valued his privacy, neighbors said. He disliked anyone hanging out near his property and reportedly yelled at parents who congregated near his home to wait for their children's school bus.

    Janet Cote and her fiancé, Shawn Murphy, both said the previous owner of their home had warned them about their peculiar neighbor. William Donaldson, who sold the home, told investigators that Tapanes was "like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." He said Tapanes was confrontational, describing one incident when Tapanes allegedly threatened some neighborhood children with a shotgun. Donaldson said he regretted not reporting the incident.

    Christopher Cote met Tapanes as Cote walked his dog about 3 a.m. The two men exchanged words, and Cote returned to his home anxious to call deputies because Tapanes was walking around with a gun, according to police reports.

    Not wanting to cause trouble in the neighborhood as soon as they moved in, Janet Cote and Murphy vetoed the idea, making Christopher Cote even angrier, according to his mother. Cote then rushed over to Tapanes' home to confront him.

    Tapanes told investigators Cote began banging on his door, yelling obscenities and threatening him, according to recently released court documents. Tapanes told Cote to get off his property and claims Cote had a gun, according to his statement to investigators.

    During a rambling statement to investigators, Tapanes said he shot Cote after he moved suddenly.

    Asked what was going through his mind when he pulled the trigger, Tapanes responded, "It's a moment. It's a blink. It never happened in my life. Uh, it's a terrible thing. I even apologized, crying, uh, the mother."

    Throughout his interview, Tapanes claims that Cote, who kicked him and his dog, was about to beat him up. Detectives pointed out he could have called 911, and that Tapanes' 140-pound German shepherd would have been enough to scare Cote away.

    "If I call 911, you shoot down the door, you shoot me inside the house before 911 comes," Tapanes said. "What is the logic?"

    Tapanes, who told investigators he was a "tough cookie" because he had once worked for the CIA and survived seven attempts on his life, eventually invokes his right to an attorney, and his interview ends.

    "I was 100 percent sure after all the yelling, throwing of beer, hitting my face, hitting me, that I have the right to defend myself any way I can," Tapanes said. "And neither a young guy that yells at the whole neighborhood, is going to threaten me and is going to bang down my door, is going to scare me. ... It's time for the lawyer.",0,4866152.story?coll=sfla-news-palm

  2. #2
    State Researcher
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    Just a "wannabe" in Mtn. Top, Pennsylvania, USA

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    Unless the article is printed incorrectly, this guy is plainly a psycho.

    I no talk english too good and can't put a coherant sentance together but I am ex-CIA. Right buddy.

    And the neighborhood sound like a place I would avoid at all costs.

    The whole article was painful to read, all I kept thinking is "uh-oh this is not gooing to be good"

  3. #3
    Regular Member
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    Auburn, Alabama, USA

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    Royal Palm Beach didn't seem too bad when I used to live near there (About 8 years ago, maybe a kilometre away)

    Although, Florida does have an unusually high amount of nutters.

    I wouldn't be surprised if he really did think the guy had a gun, I doubt he is lying. They might fry him due to his 'crazyness' though.

  4. #4
    State Researcher .40 Cal's Avatar
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    COTEP FOREVER!, North Carolina, USA

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    The German Shepherd should have been at his side in this situation. Gun or not, that dog is bread to know what to do when something like this arises. This guy probably didn't even believe that: if gun go boom, man fall down. Boys and girls, use this as a lesson. You do not pull out a gun until someone has to die (hopefully it won't be you). The defense would be easier if the dog attacked the intruder because he was being hostile on private property.

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