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Culleoka man: Wife slain in self-defense

Staff photo by Chris Fletcher A mobile home at 4531 Moore Lane in Culleoka is the scene of a Thanksgiving night slaying. James L. Cothran told officers he shot his wife in self-defense.

Staff photo by Chris Fletcher A red truck is parked in the driveway of a Culleoka home where a domestic shooting was investigated by deputies Thursday night.

Staff photo by Chris Fletcher A mailbox built out of an old milk jug marks the home on Moore Lane in Culleoka where authorities said a woman was shot by her husband Thursday night.


A Thanksgiving Day dispute over a pair of shoes ended with a Culleoka man fatally shooting his wife after she allegedly threatened him with a kitchen knife, a Maury County official said.

Sheriff’s deputies responding to a 911 call found Patricia M. Cothran, 59, still breathing but unresponsive inside the couple’s Moore Lane home between 8-9 p.m. Thursday. She stopped breathing while emergency health workers attempted to render aid, according to a deputy’s report.

The woman’s husband, 70-year-old James L. Cothran, told deputies he shot his wife with a .22 magnum revolver after she retrieved a large knife from the kitchen and threatened him with it, Capt. Jimmy Tennyson said.

Investigators questioned James Cothran at the criminal investigation department office, but he was later released based on a self-defense claim, Tennyson said. No charges were filed.

James Cothran told investigators the couple had been sitting alone in their living room watching television when his wife asked him to take off the shoes he was wearing. The shoes had belonged to her father, who died 30 years ago, according to the report.

When he refused to take off the shoes, James Cothran said his wife went into the kitchen, grabbed a knife and began walking toward where he was sitting.

“Ms. Cothran told Mr. Cothran that she should just knock his eye balls out and leave him sitting there,” according to the deputy’s report.

The couple continued to argue for about 30 minutes and James Cothran said he got between two chairs and that his wife “had a crazy look in her eyes.” He then grabbed the revolver, which had been on the floor next to his chair and fired it at her, according to the report.

Investigators recovered a knife located on the floor in front of where Mrs. Cothran was found sitting and a revolver located on top of a kitchen cabinet, according to the report.

Tennyson said sheriff’s deputies had been called to the couple’s home at least a dozen times within the past year for domestic disturbance issues, but no arrests or injuries were ever reported.

He said evidence collected at the scene and information obtained from James Cothran will be turned over to the Maury County District Attorney’s office for further review. Mrs. Cothran’s body was taken to Nashville for an autopsy.

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