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The attorney of Caralee Cottle, the woman accused of killing her boyfriend Dirk Smiler with a bolt-action rifle last month, argued today that she did so in defense, reported WaPo‘s Tom Jackman this afternoon from Cottle’s arraignment at the Fairfax County Juveline and Domestic Relations Court. The Fairfax County Police Department arrested Cottle yesterday on charges of second-degree murder.

Smiler was a practically ubiquitous figure in Washington’s goth scene.

Jackman reports:

On the night of Feb. 15, [attorney Peter D.] Greenspun said, Smiler and Cottle argued, then went to their basement bedroom. Minutes later, a shot was fired. “Literally seconds later,” Greenspun said, “Cara came upstairs, naked and covered in blood.”

But he also said, “Cara was bruised, Cara has finger marks around her neck from where he was strangling her at the time the gun went off. . . . Tragically the gun went off and Mr. Smiler was struck in the forehead area.”

Greenspun said toxicology reports will probably show that Smiler was significantly intoxicated and that Cottle was responding to “a much larger male strangling her.” Cottle is 4 foot 9, and Smiler was about a foot taller, Greenspun said.

Greenspun asked that a $25,000 bond be set for Cottle. Substitute Fairfax Judge Edward V. O’Connor Jr. declined to set bond, a decision Greenspun said he would appeal in Fairfax County Circuit Court. That motion could be heard as soon as tomorrow, Jackman reports.

Some details about Cottle’s background were revealed at the hearing:
Greenspun said that Cottle served four years in the U.S. Marine Corps and was honorably discharged as a sergeant. He said her first husband was killed in a traffic accident, and that Cottle had two children with her second husband, from whom she is divorced. He lives in North Carolina and has sole custody of the children; Greenspun said Cottle recently traveled there “to try to visit with her kids,” but did not say whether she had had any contact with them.
Cottle has held a steady job for almost two years as a production manager for Mark Fitzgibbons, who was present in court, though Greenspun did not say what type of business it is. An Internet biography and photo of Mark J. Fitzgibbons indicates that he is president of corporate and legal affairs for American Target Advertising in Manassas, where Cottle lives with her mother, and that the company is a direct-mail marketing firm launched by conservative fundraising icon Richard Viguerie.
Reached by Arts Desk last month, Cottle’s mother and ex-husband both declined to comment.
Arguing against Cottle’s release on bond, Fairfax Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Mark J. Sullivan said “she’s the one that struck the victim. By all accounts, she was the violent one and he was nonviolent,” Jackman reported.
Read the full report here.