Victim: Christopher Cote (killed)
The accused: Jose Tapones


Christopher Cote

White male

Age at time: 19

Weapon: unarmed


Jose Tapones

White male

Age at time: 62

Weapon: gun


Case type:
Neighborhood dispute

Defendant's Property



Case year:

Location details: On the defendant's front porch in Acreage in West Palm Beach, Palm Beach County, on Sept. 17, 2006

What happened: Christopher Cote, 19, was walking his dog in the predawn hours on his new neighbor's property when the neighbor complained and an argument ensued. Soon after, Cote returned to Jose Tapones' property, honked his horn and knocked on his door to confront him about the dispute. Tapones, 62 at the time, said he was scared of the younger man so he answered the door with shotgun in hand. Tapones said he fired after Cote tried to come in his house. But prosecutors said if Tapones was scared, he could have stayed inside and called 911. Instead, as Cote's family watched, he stepped outside and shot the unarmed teen twice, killing him. Assistant State Attorney Andrew Slater argued that the second shot should not have been fired. "Cote (the victim) is stumbling. He is no longer a danger, and the defendant can see what is going on. Why fire a second time?" The victim's mother testified that 10 to 15 seconds passed between shots.

The outcome: A judge denied immunity under "stand your ground." In his first trial, a jury found Tapones guilty of manslaughter and he was sentenced to 15 years. In 2009, an appeals court overturned the conviction on the grounds of jury misconduct and ordered a new trial. The second trial ended Dec. 2011 in acquittal.

Investigating agency: Palm Beach County Sheriff

Case decision made by: Jury

Trayvon Martin’s death became controversial because circumstances leading up to the shooting cast doubt on who was to blame. The Tampa Bay Times reviewed other “stand your ground” cases for similar circumstances. The Times relied on available information, some of which may not tell the whole story. When the situation was unclear, that was noted.

Yes No Unclear/

Did the victim initiate the confrontation?


Was the victim armed?


Was the victim committing a crime that led to the confrontation?


Did the defendant pursue the victim?


Could the defendant have retreated to avoid the conflict?


Was the defendant on his or her property?


Did someone witness the attack?


Was there physical evidence?


Source: Fourth District State Court of Appeal, Sept. 8, 2010.

Source: Palm Beach Post, July 19, 2011.

Source:, Aug. 8, 2008.

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Case last updated: Aug. 10, 2013