A Limington man maintained Friday that he is not guilty of killing his mother and her boyfriend, whose bodies were found in a fire-damaged house in June 2021.

Matthew Cote, seen at a zoom court hearing in June 2021, is charged with two counts of murder and one count of arson.  Megan Gray/Staff Writer

Matthew Cote, 23, added a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity during a hearing in York County Superior Court on Friday afternoon. Cote had already entered not guilty pleas to all of the charges: two counts of murder and one count of arson.

Cote, who joined the hearing via Zoom with his attorney, is currently being held at the York County Jail.

Firefighters responding to an early morning house fire in Limington on June 17, 2021, discovered the bodies of Cheryl Cote, 47, and Daniel Perkins, 46, in their home. Both victims had been shot, authorities say.

State police then issued an alert to lookout for Cote, who also lived there. When officers pulled over Cote in his mother’s Chevrolet Trailblazer, he told them he had “snapped” but never explicitly told police he was involved in their deaths, according to court documents.

Justice Richard Mulhern ordered a mental health evaluation for Cote a day after he was arrested.


Defense attorney Thomas Connolly said psychological experts will testify during the trial about how Cote’s mental health and medical history could have impacted his involvement in the incident.

“The defendant has been through psychological evaluation and we’re strongly of the belief that a reasonable jury will be able to look at these very difficult, complicated issues and come to a conclusion that is fair and just and appropriate under the circumstances,” Connolly said in a phone interview after the hearing.

At Friday’s hearing, Mulhern said that because Cote is claiming insanity, his jury trial, which was initially set for Oct. 28, will be pushed back until October 2025. The two joint pleas mean there could be two trials: one to determine if he’s guilty and one to determine whether he’s criminally responsible based on his mental state at the time.

One woman watching the hearing on Zoom interrupted the judge as he was announcing the new trial date, saying “that is (expletive).”

As the hearing wrapped up, she again unmuted her microphone and appeared to address Cote.

“Matt, the truth will set you free, buddy,” she said.


During Cote’s arrest in June 2021, he said he “knew this was coming,” according to court documents.

“When asked if he wanted to move out of the direct sunlight that he was standing in, Matthew advised that he wanted to stay in the sunlight, as it would probably be the last sunlight he would see for a while,” court records state.

Investigators say the fire wasn’t the cause of death and that the victims died from the gunshot wounds. According to court records, a neighbor heard gunshots between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Police say Cote owned firearms.

“The interface between mental illness, firearms and abuse in the household are all very, very complicated issues,” Connolly said.

In a 2021 interview, Cheryl Cote’s friend, Shelly Grose, said she was “one of the best people” she has ever known, and was close with her son.

“Nobody deserves to die that way but especially not her,” Grose said.

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