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Ohio Army Vet Acquitted In Shooting Death Of Allegedly Abusive Veteran Boyfriend

An Ohio jury acquitted Audrey Cole of murder and felonious assault in the shooting death of her boyfriend, Matthew Mott, who she said beat her before she shot him.

By Megan Carpentier
Gavel Crime Story

A jury in Carroll County acquitted a woman charged with shooting her boyfriend after he allegedly abused her.

Audrey Cole, 34, had been charged with murder and felonious assault after she shot her boyfriend, Matthew Mott, 32, on May 3, 2021 inside the home they shared in Mechanicstown, Ohio — about 65 miles west of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The jury acquitted her on Wednesday on both counts after her lawyers argued that she shot Mott in self-defense, Law & Crime reported.

Cole told police in the hours after the shooting that Mott had assaulted her and put her head through their bedroom wall before leaving her alone in the room, the Carroll County Messenger reported.

"He grabbed me by the neck and started punching me in the head and face," she said in a taped interview with police played at her trial. "He knocked my head into the wall. I tried to block him with my arms and hands. He was standing over me. I was yelling. Then he stopped and walked out. He was in a rage."

Cole relayed to police that, before leaving the room, Mott told her "'I see why your dad used to hit your mom.' Something like that. 'Because you don’t know how to shut up,'" according to Law & Crime.

Cole then told police that she retrieved and AR-15 from under the couple's bed, took a magazine from the closet, loaded the gun and then left the bedroom with the intention of leaving the home.

Mott allegedly confronted her again in the hallway and advanced on her, at which point she fired a single shot at him.

“Oh the pain,” she told police he said to her before running out of the house, according to the Messenger.

In her account to police that was played at trial, she said that she went outside, didn't see Mott, saw blood on the door when she went inside, called her mother and then called 911 around 5:30 p.m.. After speaking to the dispatcher, she discovered Mott unresponsive on the lawn. Officials testified that she performed CPR until officers arrived on the scene, despite the fact that she told dispatchers that she had symptoms of a concussion.

"My head is really hurting right now," she told the 911 dispatcher, according to the Messenger. "My forehead is bleeding and there are marks where he was punching me in the head."

Cole was treated at the hospital for two to three hours and then released into police custody, when she gave the statement that was played at her trial.

Cole and Mott were both U.S. Army veterans and she told police after the incident that he'd been diagnosed with service-connected post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was in treatment, according to the Messenger. She'd also been diagnosed at some point with PTSD but her diagnosis was changed; she was also reportedly in treatment.

There had been another domestic incident when the two lived together in Maryland, the Messenger reported, and Cole said that Mott had also struggled with alcoholism.

"He had progressively gotten worse since Christmas break," she told police after the shooting. "I told him we needed to be apart and I was in the process of buying a house."

She said the couple — who had moved to Mechanicstown from Pittsburgh about eight months before the shooting, after Mott had gotten a Pittsburgh-based job, according to the Messenger — had been fighting on May 3 over medication for the couple's 3-year-old daughter.

"I went to my bedroom to get away from the situation,” Cole told police, the paper reported. "He came in a few minutes later and was trying to pick a fight with me."

Prosecutors alleged that Cole was not in immediate danger from Mott when she shot him in the hallway of their home, and argued to the jury that he hadn't been beating her that severely on the night of his death.

"She was not beat to a bloody pulp," Prosecutor Stephen D. Barnett told jurors in his closing statement, Law & Crime reported. "You saw the tape. You saw the interview. You heard the statements. If she was a bloody pulp, she would have been hospitalized. She would have had bandages on her head. Something. Something more. But she was treated and she was released. She was not admitted to the hospital."

The jury found that prosecutors failed to prove all the elements necessary for a murder conviction, and they failed to prove that the felonious assault was not committed in self-defense, according to a Law & Crime video of the verdict being read.