Brian Cohee: The events leading to murder

The defense called witnesses to testify Monday against 21-year-old accused murderer Brian Cohee.
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 4:26 PM MST
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - The defense called witnesses to testify Monday against 21-year-old accused murderer Brian Cohee.

Cohee is on trial for the murder of Warren Barnes. Cohee pleads not guilty by reason of insanity, though he admitted to the murder upon arrest in 2021.

The defense brought a family doctor and therapist of Cohee’s that shed light on some of Cohee’s troubled past.

Dr. Craig Gustason began seeing Cohee as a family doctor at age 15. Gustason diagnosed and treated Cohee for depression in 2018. In 2020 Cohee reported frequent headaches, so Dr. Gustason ordered a CT scan to check for any tumors or clots.

The results were normal. He testified that aside from 2018, Cohee did not report being suicidal.

Just days before the killing, Cohee saw Dr. Gustason for an infected abscess under his arm. the Dr. reported that Brian was, “Definitely not psychotic at the time he came in for help with his abscess.”

Bea Phillips took on a counseling role towards Cohee. Phillips said they first started working together in 2017. Throughout their 24 sessions, Cohee had made remarks such as referring to trans individuals as “it.”

When talking about Darwinism with Phillips, Cohee asked, “Why is it such a big deal to hurt or steal from others? It’s what we’re supposed to do.” On one occurrence, Cohee intentionally bullied a young girl in order to trigger her PTSD. Phillips said Cohee knew right from wrong at the time.

Cohee’s mother initially hoped Phillips could help her son process the death of his uncle, but Cohee reported feeling tired of pretending and felt ambivalent about his uncle’s death.

Cohee’s mother brought him to the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation for an assessment in 2019. His mother reported that Cohee was unable to understand how his choices affected the future and lives of those around him.

Dr. Katrina Katen diagnosed Cohee with the lowest level of Autism: Level 1, needing the least amount of support or assistance. When she asked about his future goals in life, Dr. Katen said Cohee responded by idolizing infamous people who were famous for destructive acts, including Adolph Hitler, Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, serial killer Ted Bundy, and former premier of the USSR Joseph Stalin. Katen recommended him out for an immediate further evaluation.

A coworker testified that Cohee became more and more talkative in the months leading to his arrest. Summer Clemmons was a courtesy clerk back in 2021 at the Safeway where Cohee worked.

She said he mentioned not having any friends, and in an attempt to cheer him up she expressed that she, along with other coworkers, were his friends. Cohee responded back saying “they are only my friends out of pity.”