http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/west/epaper/2007/08/07/c1b_tapanes_0807.html Murder charge stands in Acreage shooting Click-2-Listen By LARRY KELLER Palm Beach Post Staff Writer Tuesday, August 07, 2007 WEST PALM BEACH Despite his attorney's contention that he feared for his life, a judge declined Monday to dismiss a first-degree murder charge against Jose Tapanes, who said his new neighbor threatened him and attempted to enter his house in the pre-dawn hours. Tapanes, 63, fired two blasts from a shotgun in September, killing Christopher Cote, 19. Public Defender Carey Haughwout argued that Florida law made Tapanes immune from prosecution because it states that one has no duty to retreat and is justified in using deadly force if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm or to prevent an illegal entry into his home. Haughwout said she needed to show only that a preponderance of the evidence indicated that Cote was trying to enter Tapanes' home. She argued that Tapanes' testimony about events leading up to the shooting were not rebutted. Assistant State Attorney Andy Slater countered that there was "not a shred of evidence" that Cote tried to force his way into Tapanes' home in The Acreage. He added that nobody corroborated Tapanes' story that Cote was trying to break in. Circuit Judge Edward Garrison asked Haughwout whether, if a defendant met the preponderance of evidence threshold, that would mean he had "a license to execute the intruder." What if the intruder were shot in the back while retreating, he asked. "There certainly could be lines drawn at an execution, but that's not what happened here," Haughwout replied. After a hearing over parts of two days that included testimony from a dozen witnesses and the submission of 18 exhibits, Garrison ruled that Haughwout had not proved there was a preponderance of evidence for Tapanes' position. No trial date has been set. Tapanes and Cote had quarreled as the latter walked his dog after 3 a.m. Cote went home and told his family that Tapanes had brandished a gun. Cote then got in his Jeep Cherokee, pulled into Tapanes' driveway and honked his horn. Getting no response, he got out, and knocked or pounded on Tapanes' door. Tapanes opened the door, shot once, paused, and fired again, according to testimony. Tapanes testified last week that he saw a gun in Cote's hand when he fired. No weapon was found on or near Cote. County Medical Examiner Michael Bell said one shot grazed Cote's chest, but the other ripped into his stomach and mangled his aorta. He probably died in "a minute or so," Bell said. Sheriff's Capt. Bruce Barkdoll responded to the shooting and saw Cote lying on the ground. "It was a horrific wound," he said. "I've seen a lot of people shot, but never like this." Cote's mother, Janet Cote, also testified Monday. She and her fiancé ran after her son and tried in vain to stop him from confronting Tapanes when they saw him pull into Tapanes' driveway, she said. She estimated that 15 to 20 seconds elapsed between gunshots. Janet Cote called 911, then tried to help her son. As she knelt over him, she heard Tapanes "chanting something," she said. "I turned around and told him to shut up, because this probably was the last few seconds I would have with my son."