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Former Las Vegas Pastor Sentenced for ‘Incredibly Violent Murder’ of Elderly Neighbor and Her Friend with Shotgun Blasts to the Head

Andrew Cote via Las Vegas Metro Police Department

Andrew M. Cote via Las Vegas Metro Police Department.

A 38-year-old former pastor in Las Vegas received a life sentence for murdering his elderly neighbor and her friend after a decade-long feud.

Judicial District Court Judge Michelle Leavitt on Wednesday ordered Andrew Martin Cote to serve a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole for the 2020 slayings of 71-year-old Mildred Olivo and her 54-year-old friend Timothy Hanson, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

A Clark County jury in May found Cote guilty on two counts of first-degree murder. Judge Leavitt credited Cote with 756 days of time served. He will be eligible for parole after serving 56 years.

During his trial, the former pastor at Mountain View Baptist Church took the stand to testify in his own defense, and claimed that he shot Olivo and Hanson, both of whom were unarmed, because he believed they were threatening the life of his 9-year-old daughter, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. He reportedly reiterated that notion when addressing the court during Wednesday’s sentencing hearing.

“That was my reality on that night when I had to protect my 9-year-old firstborn daughter from a potential loss of life,” Cote reportedly said.

Cote reportedly testified that on the evening of June 25, 2020 he was inside his home when he heard Hanson yelling. Grabbing his 12-gauge shotgun, Cote went to investigate and reportedly discovered his daughter in their yard and Hanson and Olivo on the other side of the fence. Cote reportedly heard Hanson yell “Go get your daddy” at his daughter.

Cote then “aimed his shotgun over the wall separating the two properties, and shot Olivo and Hanson in the head,” the Review-Journal reported. Cote reportedly testified at trial that he had no intention of speaking with Olivo or Hanson prior to fatally shooting them.

Earlier on the day of the shooting, Olivo reportedly caught Cote and his daughter filming her watering her plants and sprayed them with her hose. Cote then called the police on Olivo, a practice both neighbors reportedly employed many times since Cote and his family moved into the house in 2009.

While Cote’s defense attorney argued that his client was acting in self-defense, prosecutors argued that his actions were motivated by his disdain for Olivo.

“This was an incredibly violent murder, and it was one that was absolutely unnecessary,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Pamela Weckerly reportedly said during Wednesday’s proceeding.

Tai Hanson, one of Timothy Hanson’s daughters, read a victim impact statement prior to the sentence being handed down.

“As the jury ruled, there’s no set of circumstances that justify how our father was taken from us,” she reportedly said. “Funny, charming, caring and strong, and charismatic — just a few words that encapsulate the man who raised me into who I am today.”

Lissette Botello, Olivo’s daughter, reportedly addressed Cote directly, saying, “You took a big piece of my life and my heart.”

Michael Sanft, Cote’s defense attorney, reportedly told the Review-Journal that he plans to appeal the verdict and sentence.

Sanft did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime regarding his client’s sentence.

[Image via LVMPD]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.