GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — It’s the kind of story only nightmares are made of. 21-year-old Brian Cohee Jr on trial for the gruesome murder and dismemberment of a local homeless man on February 27th, 2021.
Cohee was arrested just days later in March 2021 following the discovery of remains belonging to 69-year-old warren Barnes of grand junction, stashed in Cohee’s closet.
The defendant is pleading not guilty for first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with evidence, all by reason of insanity.
According to the arrest affidavit,t Cohee suffers from a major depressive disorder and Asperger’s.
Jury selection commenced with a grim warning from Judge Gurley saying, “The facts of this case are hard to take.”
Jury selection and opening statements concluded Wednesday.
The prosecution has burden of proof and in Colorado, they have to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt Cohee knew the difference between right and wrong at the time of the murder by showing Cohee was planning, preparing, and hiding evidence because people don’t hide what they perceive to be wrong.
The defense says Cohee cant experience emotions like others, or relate to others, and morally doesn’t know murder is wrong.
The first witness who took the stand also took the famous picture of Barnes seen by so many, and in her testimony said, “Warren Barnes was my friend.”
Emotions ran high on Thursday as Terri Cohee took the witness stand reliving the horrific moments when she discovered a human head in her son’s closet at the home where she ran a daycare for kids two to five years old. Mrs. Cohee told prosecutors her first thought was to get the kids out.
Mrs. Cohee testified her son has Autism, ADHD, and anxiety, and has been taking meds since he was five years old.
Terri Cohee recalled finding her son’s black backpack months before the murder containing zip ties, a hammer, and duct tape referred to the jury as a kit instead of a kill kit as prosecutors wanted.
The prosecution interviewed Mrs. Cohee for more than two hours. The defense only took six minutes.
on Friday, Brian Cohee senior, the defendant’s dad, who founded the local save a life jacket program in 1994, testified. His son scowled as Cohee senior testified he saw blood on the trunk of his son’s green ford 500 sedan as a tow truck tried to remove their son’s partially submerged car from the river on February 28th.
Cohee senior says he found Barnes’s wallet, a 12-inch knife in the glove box and white latex gloves the next day.
Cohee senior told prosecutors about the day he met a Brian he never knew when his son told deputies, “I murdered him with a knife. I always wanted to know what murder felt like.”
The nearly two-hour video of Brian Cohee Jr’s murder confession was reviewed taking investigators through step by horrifying step of the murder, dismemberment, and attempt at eliminating the evidence.
Finally, physical evidence was presented by the prosecution on Friday afternoon continuing into Monday. The evidence was reviewed from the house where the severed human head and hands were found, the Blue Heron boat ramp where Cohee said he disposed of Barnes’s body in the river, and the scene of the murder just blocks away from the courtroom where Brian Cohee II stands trial.
The murder trial entered its second week on Monday, January 23.