Accused killer pleads not guilty in motel shooting

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The Rome man charged in the fatal shooting at the Red Carpet Inn pleaded not guilty at the first half of his virtual arraignment in County Court Monday morning.

Wilfredo Cotto Jr., 40, appeared virtually before Judge Robert L. Bauer Monday on one count of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

A not guilty plea was entered on Cotto’s behalf during the proceedings and his case was adjourned until Wednesday to secure him an attorney and finish the arraignment.

Cotto is currently being held at the county jail without bail due to a parole violation.

Law enforcement authorities said that Cotto shot and killed 28-year-old
Benjamin J. Davis, of Ulster County, while Davis was staying at the Red Carpet Inn on Lawrence Street on Nov. 15.

Authorities said Cotto and Davis were familiar with one another, and then Cotto and another man fled the scene.

Cotto has been in lockup on the violation since December, authorities said.

The second man involved remains under investigation, according to
prosecutors said.

According to state records, Cotto has served four previous state prison sentences.

He was released on parole on June 26, 2020, on a charge of grand larceny.

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