Henrico woman gets life in prison for murder of boyfriend's teen son

Published: Apr. 12, 2018 at 5:05 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 12, 2018 at 5:09 PM EDT
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HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A Henrico County woman was found guilty Thursday of murdering her boyfriend's 19-year-old son, Martre Coles.

Denise Gay was sentenced to life in prison and a $100,000 fine.

During a re-trial this week, prosecutors said Denise Gay, along with her daughter Latoya Gay, suffocated Coles in his room, on March 12, 2017.

Coles was reported missing for days, until his body was discovered bound in a plastic bin, left in a wooded area on Gorman Road near an eastern Henrico industrial complex.

Denise Gay's first trial resulted in a conviction of conspiracy to commit murder, but the jury was hung on the actual first-degree murder charge.

Prosecutors retold jurors their chilling account of the homicide on Thursday, in front of the actual gray bin in which Coles' body had been discarded.

Attorneys said that Denise and Latoya Gay drugged Martre before he began work on creating a plaster mask, aiming to gain acceptance into an arts university.

Denise Gay's then 12-year-old daughter testified that she saw her mother and older sister suffocating Coles with the mask, as she peeked into his bedroom door. The girl said she heard Coles yelling, "Get off me."

As she looked into his room, she saw her mom and older sister sitting on top of him with something white on his face, describing a struggle. The girl also said she saw Latoya Gay later pushing a "green" bin, never seeing Coles again.

Prosecutors went on to show jurors forensic cell phone evidence geographically pinning Denise Gay to Goodwill and Lowe's stores. They said she bought shoes, which she later put on Martre's body, and also bound his hands, as if to stage a kidnapping. Attorneys say Denise bought the shovel from Lowe's with cash.

Lime was also found in the bin with the body. Attorneys presented evidence that someone had done a search on a computer in the house, researching lime and dead bodies.

Prosecutors also presented text messages made between Denise and Latoya Gay, discussing trying to relocate and bury the body, after they initially abandoned it in a bin in the wooded area.

At that point, the body had been found by police and removed. Detectives had set up a camera at the site, which caught video of Denise later going back to the scene and searching for the body, with the shovel from Lowe's.

The defense attempted to poke holes in the prosecution's story, asserting that Denise Gay's 12-year-old daughter killed Martre, after admitting to previously stabbing him with scissors (for which she was charged), pouring bleach under his bedroom door and throwing knives at him.

The defense maintains Denise Gay was covering up for her troubled daughter. Attorneys also say the girl's story had changed throughout the investigation.

The defense attorney stressed that "suspicion or probably" wasn't enough for a conviction. He said jurors must be sure that it was Denise Gay who killed Coles, and not the 12-year-old girl. He said just because Denise Gay cleaned up the mess, didn't mean she committed the murder.

Denise Gay's other daughter, LaToya, has another trial set for the first degree murder charge in May.

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