Prosecutors said Wednesday they will seek the death penalty against a man accused of raping and strangling a neighbor and then hiding in her attic.
Dartangan Darnell Cotton, 21, of Oklahoma City, is charged with first-degree murder in the Sept. 6, 2011, death of Paula Martin, 56.
At Cotton's preliminary hearing Wednesday, an Oklahoma City police lieutenant testified about finding Martin inside a bedroom rolled up in a blanket with her hands bound behind her back.
Lt. William Patten said Martin's body had been partially stuffed under a bed and hidden with a mattress.
“It was obvious that she was deceased,” Patten said.
Martin died from traumatic asphyxiation, according to a spokeswoman for the state medical examiner's office.
Oklahoma City police officers found Cotton inside Martin's home at 524 SW 48 when he fell from the attic through the living room ceiling.
Patten testified about checking the residence when he heard a crash and saw a man's legs dangling from the ceiling.
Officers pulled the man from the ceiling when he ignored their commands to come down, Patten said.
A judge is expected to decide Thursday whether there is enough evidence to order Cotton to face trial in the slaying.
Prosecutors amended their case against Cotton last month to include two counts of first-degree rape and said they will ask for the death penalty because the crimes against Martin were “heinous, atrocious or cruel” and Cotton poses a “continuing threat to society” if released.
Cotton also is facing a first-degree burglary charge, which prosecutors amended Wednesday to show Cotton intended to rape Martin when he entered her home through the garage while she was inside, court papers show.
Multiple witnesses told police they saw a black male exit Martin's car and enter her garage, and one witness observed a window screen on the ground and a storm window missing screws.
Cotton told police he was on the telephone the night Martin was killed when he heard sirens outside. He said when he walked outside he was pointed out to police and arrested.
Cotton denied ever setting foot in Martin's home, even though police arrested him after he crashed through her living room ceiling.