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Man Tells Multiple Tales
[January 22, 2012]

Man Tells Multiple Tales

Jan 22, 2012 (Times Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- At least one investigator didn't believe Brent Dan Cotta's description of how he killed Cassie Cotta, despite Cotta's confessing and leading authorities to his wife's body.

Brent Cotta, 33, of Fort Smith is charged with first-degree murder in the Dec. 30 death of his wife and is being held at the Sebastian County Adult Detention Center on a $500,000 cash bond. If Cotta is found guilty of first-degree murder, the Class Y felony is punishable by 10 to 40 years or life in prison.

Police reports indicate Brent Cotta gave investigators multiple accounts of what happened Dec. 30 before finally giving a confession.

Brent Cotta first talked to police hours after Pearl Cook reported her daughter Cassie Cotta missing on Dec. 31, and again on Jan. 2 and Jan. 3. Cook made the report after Cassie Cotta failed to show up for work at Perry's Place.

Three Accounts According to police reports, Brent Cotta initially told police he'd gone to pick up his wife at Perry's Place around 8 p.m. Dec. 30, but by the time he arrived, she'd taken a cab home.

Brent told police he just walked in the door when his wife arrived in a cab.

After a brief discussion, Brent Cotta said he went to lie down and heard Cassie Cotta slam the door on her way out.

When he woke up, he texted her asking where she was, and she responded between 10:25 p.m. and 10:44 p.m. that she was out with friends.

Brent Cotta said he never left their residence again on Dec. 30 after returning from Perry's.

In another account, Brent Cotta told police he was asleep when his wife arrived at home on Dec. 30, and he went back to sleep after she tried to start an argument.

When he woke up around 10 p.m., Brent Cotta said he called his ex-wife and learned Cassie Cotta had called her earlier that evening. "That's a huge line she crossed," Brent Cotta said.

He said the next time he heard from Cassie was between 10:25 p.m. and 10:44 p.m. when she responded to a text from him.

In still another account, Brent Cotta told police his wife was talking about going to a party when she came home on Dec. 30, and she was gone when he woke up shortly before 10 p.m.

Neighbor's View In addition to those inconsistencies, police began to view Brent Cotta as a suspect when they determined "95 percent" of what he told them was a lie, according to a police report.

A statement from Brent Cotta's neighbor, Casey Mobley, contradicted Brent Cotta's claim that he never left home Dec. 30 after he returned from Perry's.

Mobley told police he heard Cassie Cotta yelling at Brent Cotta on the evening of Dec. 30 before things quieted down for the evening.

About 20 to 30 minutes later, Mobley told police he went downstairs and Brent Cotta was standing next to a white Ford Explorer that was backed up to the Cottas' front door, according to a police report.

Brent Cotta then went upstairs to the apartment Mobley shares with his wife Brittney, before telling them he was going to get some things together and go to his ex-wife's house.

Brent Cotta then went downstairs, loaded something into the Explorer and left about midnight, returning home about an hour later, according to a police report.

In an interview on Jan. 12, Brittney Mobley told investigators that Brent Cotta, while in her apartment said, "If something was to happen to her (Cassie), I don't know what I would do with the body," according to a police report.

Brittney Mobley told police she dismissed the comment as "drunk talk." GPS Records Cell phone records with GPS locations police obtained Jan. 2 also contradict Cotta's claim that he never left home Dec. 30 after he returned from Perry's.

While records indicated Brent Cotta was still in the area of his residence in 5600 block of Johnson Street at 10:26 p.m. on Dec. 30, the next location showed his phone was in the area of Hollis Lake just south of Van Buren near the Arkansas River on Dec. 31 at 1:25 a.m., according to a police report. The next location for Brent Cotta's phone showed in the area of his home at 2:24 a.m. on Dec. 31.

Cassie Cotta's phone records showed her phone near the residence at 8:41 p.m. on Dec. 30, and then near Hollis Lake at 12:52 a.m. on Dec. 31 with a final location near Hollis Lake at 8:28 a.m. on Dec. 31.

"Later in the night, the two were together in the river bottoms near Van Buren. Brent went back home and Cassie did not," according to a police report.

Investigators said they also determined that Brent Cotta used his wife's phone following her death to send text messages to his phone to give the appearance she was still alive.

Body Recovered On Jan. 3, multiple officers with the Fort Smith Police Department unsuccessfully searched for Cotta's body near Hollis Lake before they decided to see if they could get Brent Cotta to lead them to it.

Detective Adam Creek, Fort Smith police, told Brent Cotta he could prove 95 percent of what he'd told investigators was a lie and implored him "not to be a monster." Then Brent Cotta agreed to lead investigators to the body, according to a police report.

As they drove north on Midland Boulevard, Brent Cotta asked where they were going and told Creek "this isn't the way to Greenwood," before then telling Creek, "I'm just f---ing with you, you are going the right way," according to a police report. Brent Cotta also asked if it was the cell phones that got him, according to a police report.

After Cassie Cotta's body was recovered just off Gun Club Road on the north side of the Arkansas River in Crawford County, Brent Cotta provided investigators with a statement.

Motives Unclear As in his first two interviews, Brent Cotta provided more than one account of the events that led him to kill his wife.

Initially, Brent Cotta said she "set me off" by taunting him with the fact she'd been with another man earlier that night, even though he previously told police the marriage was over and they were only living together because he couldn't afford to rent his own place, according to a police report.

Brent Cotta then told police he and his wife were arguing, she pulled out a steak knife, he freaked out because it brought back "bad memories," and he punched her in the throat, dropping her to the floor, according to a police report.

"He said that Cassie just lay in the floor and twitched a couple of times," according to a police report. "He said he tried to give her CPR but it did not work. He said that Cassie's lips turned blue and he just sat there." At one point during the statement, Brent Cotta also told investigators that Cassie Cotta's call to his ex-wife set him off.

Brent Cotta also described going to the Mobley's apartment after he killed his wife and then dumping her body at a "random location" near the river.

"While speaking with Brent, he told a large amount of lies. I did not believe that Cassie Cotta had simply been hit in the throat and died. I believed that he strangled her," Creek wrote in a police report.

A preliminary report from the Arkansas State Crime Laboratory indicates 24-year-old Cassie Leigh Cotta was strangled.

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