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California man gets life for killing brother, father and then claiming it was murder-suicide

A California man will spend the rest of his life behind bars for the double-slaying of his brother, who has autism, and his father, which he then tried to cover up as a murder-suicide.

Robert Cotter, now 19, initially tried to convince authorities his younger brother, 15-year-old Brian Cotter, fatally shot his father, 53-year-old Patrick Cotter, inside their Fresno mobile home. He called authorities himself the night of the killings, which occurred in May 2021, noting Brian then turned the firearm on himself, according to KFSN.

For months, it appeared Robert would get away with the gruesome crime, but officers combing through his internet history found searches on topics like how to make murder look like a suicide. The Fresno Police Department, in a statement, also revealed that his account was “inconsistent with the physical evidence obtained during the investigation.”

Authorities said Robert, then 18, waited for both victims to fall asleep before first shooting his father, and then turning his attention to Brian.

“His brother woke up, started to run away and he pulled his brother by the collar and shot him in the head,” said prosecutor Daniel Walters.

Robert initially pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but confessed his crimes shortly after being arrested. His attorney, Emily Takao, argued that Robert had a difficult and traumatic life.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murders plus 50 years to life for using a gun.

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