Mugshot photo of Helen Coulter prior to her Dec 2008 stomping death.
Helen Coulter was a 39-year-old physically disabled female with a troubling past. A street prostitute, she had been to jail on more than one occasion, mainly due to drugs and theft. She was released from a Phoenix woman’s prison in December 2008 after doing time for forgery, identity theft and drug convictions and it didn’t take her long to get back into the swing of things including prostitution.
Many in the city would see the less than appealing woman dressed down, walking with her cane. She received very little respect due to her appearance and background. All one had to do was look at her and they would instantly assume she was a drug abusing hooker.
In the early morning hours of December 13, 2008 as Coulter was walking somewhere between Broadway and 22nd Street in Phoenix, AZ, she came across 16-year-old Jose Preciliano Quintero, a documented gang member since the age 14. Quintero was walking with a group of teenagers including his younger brother not to far from his house. He had just split from his girlfriend and was already on edge and when he spotted Coulter he started taunting her, sarcastically requesting sex and asking her “how much” (for her services).
Photo of Jose Quintero
Coulter responded by calling Quintero a “wet back” which is a racial slur meant to insult Hispanics.
The insult enraged Quintero who then snapped and punched Coulter, knocking the handicapped woman to the ground. He then dragged her to a nearby field and spent the next 40 minutes beating and stomping her to death. He focused mainly on her face and neck and by the time he was done there was little left on her face and she was non recognizable. He then sodomized her corpse with a stick and left her nude body lying in the field where it was discovered the following morning by a passerby.
A few days later authorities tracked Quintero at his high school and arrested him. He was wearing the same shoes he had used in the attack and Coulter’s blood was still on them. In fact, the bloody footprints on Coulter’s deformed face matched the dried up blood on the bottom of Quintero’s shoes. He definitely made it an easy case for police to solve.
Police brought Quintero back to the Station and interviewed him. He would soon confess, even employing sound effects like “boom” and “pow” when he reenacted the crime. He also told police that Coulter looked “all cracked out”.
His trail was held at the Maricopa County Courthouse and Quintero plead not guilty despite all the evidence against him. His defense lawyers even tried pointing the finger at his younger brother, accusing him of being the culprit. The brother told police that he had gone to the scene and retrieved Quintero’s camera, and that he had poked Coulter’s body with a palm frond. It was pointed out that the two brothers wore the same shoes, perhaps interchangeably. But police could not find sufficient evidence to charge the brother or another youth who was implicated by other witnesses interviewed by police.
The brother did not testify, instead invoking the Fifth Amendment against the possibility of incriminating himself.
The Jury didn’t by the possible cover up and on September 21, 2010 Quintero was found guilty of murder.
His sentencing trail was held in December 2010 to determine if Quintero, then 18, should get a chance of parole after 25 years. His attitude at the sentencing trail two years after his crime was that of amusement. Quintero smirked as the prosecutor described how he stomped Coulter to death, and kept smirking even after the prosecutor called it to the judges attention. Not smart on his part because one can almost predict that in 25 years, when he’s up for parole, his smirking will be brought up at the parole hearing, dimmering any chance of release in the future.
“Her face was destroyed,” said prosecutor Jeanine Sorrentino. “It didn’t look like a face (anymore).”