SKOWHEGAN, Maine — A Palmyra man was sentenced Friday in Skowhegan Superior Court to 45 years in prison for murder in the beating death of a Detroit man more than two years ago over drugs.
A Somerset County jury found in December that Jason Cote, 25, killed Ricky Cole, 47, of Detroit on July 17, 2013.
Cote, who testified at his trial, claimed he acted in self-defense, but expressed remorse Friday and apologized to members of Cole’s family who filled the courtroom.
“I wish I had died instead,” he said. “I wish it was the other way around.”
Cote said that he is not the same man he was three years ago.
“I don’t want to go back to the way I was,” he said. “I did something horrible. I did something tragic. I will always be haunted by it.”
Cole’s friends and family asked that Cote spend the rest of his life in prison.
Many of Cote’s relatives said he was supportive and helpful.
In imposing the sentence, Superior Court Justice Andrew Horton called the crime a “brutal, savage killing.”
Cole died of multiple blunt-force impact traumas and extensive blood loss, according to a previously published report. Maine state chief medical examiner Dr. Mark Flomenbaum “observed deep internal injuries, including a fractured skull,” the affidavit said.
Horton concluded that Cote went to Cole’s home to obtain illegal prescription drugs. Cole refused to give them to him because Cote owed him money, which led to an altercation, the judge concluded.
“Mr. Cote’s actions went way, way beyond what’s justified in self-defense,” Horton said of Cote beating Cole with a lead pipe, then stomping on his head.
Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea recommended Cote be incarcerated for 50 years. Defense attorney Stephen Smith of Augusta urged Horton to send his client to prison for 30 years, five years more than the mandatory minimum.
Smith has said the verdict would be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.