For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
August 26, 2016
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks announced a conviction in a felony driving under the influence (DUI) trial that concluded yesterday evening. Two victims in the case were severely injured and the defendant was also convicted on charges of felony reckless driving causing substantial bodily harm. The defendant will be sentenced on November 1, 2016 and faces up to 40 years in prison.
Nicole Gabrielle Cote, 25 (dob 8/14/92), from Sun Valley was found guilty yesterday evening on two counts of DUI Causing Substantial Bodily Harm and two counts of Reckless Driving Causing Substantial Bodily Harm. Cote will be sentenced on November 1, 2016 in Department 8 of Washoe County District Court.
The case against Cote began on December 19, 2014 when the Reno Police Department was dispatched to the scene of a major injury accident that occurred at the intersection of Delucchi Lane and South Virginia. The investigation determined that prior to the collision Cote had rear ended a nearby vehicle in heavy traffic and screamed at the other driver before fleeing the scene. Cote then sped southbound on Virginia Street almost sideswiping another vehicle, swerved over the concrete median dividing traffic and straddled the barrier attempting to regain control. Cote then accelerated off the median and into the right turn lane heading into the Whole Foods Parking lot. Her vehicle was estimated to have reached over 60 miles per hour before it hit the passenger side of an oncoming car, severely injuring its two male occupants. The Reno Police Department later requested a warrant for Cote’s arrest and this office subsequently filed formal criminal charges.
During trial, Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Michael Bolenbaker presented expert testimony that Cote was traveling 61 miles per hour before impact. Members of the Washoe County Forensic Division testified that her blood alcohol level was .066 approximately two hour after the accident and her level of Marijuana was almost three times the legal limit. Multiple witnesses testified during the four day trial that upon exiting the vehicle Cote showed no signs of remorse and was primarily concerned with the damage done to her vehicle. In support of this, DDA Bolenbaker presented Cote’s 911 call in which she stated in a moment of reflection, “I can’t believe I did this to my brand new car, this is my car.”
The driver of the vehicle Cote hit suffered seven broken ribs, three broken vertebrae, a lacerated kidney and a punctured lung. The 19 year old victim testified he still experiences chronic back pain as a result of the accident. His 19 year old passenger suffered a traumatic brain injury, which put him in a coma for approximately one month. He was later transferred to an out of state rehabilitation hospital where he began a vigorous 19 month process to learn to walk and talk again. At trial, his father testified that he still must use a wheelchair and is unable to speak coherently.