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Smiler murder case sent to Fairfax grand jury

The murder case against a woman accused of killing D.C. goth scene fixture Dirk Smiler was sent to a Fairfax County grand jury Monday for possible indictment, but the judge who heard the case ruled that the woman accused in the shooting could be released on bond before her trial.

In the preliminary hearing for Cara Cottle, 31, evidence from Smiler’s autopsy revealed that he had gunpowder residue and “stippling” on one of his hands, indicating that his hand was near the muzzle of the long rifle which killed him. Defense attorney Peter D. Greenspun said marks on Cottle’s neck indicate that Smiler was choking her when the gun went off during a struggle.

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Smiler, 37, and Cottle lived together with several other roommates in a house on Little River Turnpike in Annandale. On Feb. 15, according to testimony Monday by roommate Bryan Bruner, Cottle ran upstairs shortly after a loud noise downstairs and screamed, “Help me, help me! I shot him!” Smiler was dead at the scene of a gunshot wound to the forehead.

The gun used to kill Smiler was a Mauser 8mm bolt-action rifle, Fairfax homicide Detective Robert Bond said. He said the stippling, or burns from a close-range gunshot, and gunpowder residue on Smiler’s hand could not have come from the trigger area of the World War II-era rifle. Bond acknowledged that he saw the marks on Cottle’s neck and did not know the exact circumstances of the shooting.

Chief Fairfax Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Judge Kimberly J. Daniel bound the case over to the Circuit Court grand jury, saying it was “a really close call.” After hearing that Cottle had ties to the community and had not fled in the six weeks before she was arrested, Daniel allowed Cottle to post a $50,000 bond and be released. Two other Fairfax judges had rejected bond.

-- Tom Jackman

By Washington Post Editors  |  May 3, 2010; 5:39 PM ET
Categories:  Fairfax , Homicide , The Region , Tom Jackman , Updates , Virginia  | Tags: Cara Cottle, Fairfax County, Fairfax County Virginia, Grand jury, Indictment, Murder, Preliminary hearing, dirk smiler  
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