Death Sentence Possible in Cortland Drug-Murder Federal Case
Federal prosecutors say three people are being named in an indictment that includes charges of murder during a drug conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute 50 or more grams of methamphetamine in Cortland County.
36-year-old Kyle Leeper of Palmyra, Pennsylvania is accused of shooting and killing a man in January of last year while trafficking meth. 28-year-old Ramon Nieve Cotto of DeRuyter is accused of helping Leeper kill Robert Chavez while 36-year-old Arlene Rodriguez of Montebello, California is charged with drug conspiracy.
Nieves Cotto was arrested Friday while Leeper and Rodriguez have been in federal custody since August. They had first been arrested January 19, 2019 by the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office for possession of methamphetamine and firearms. The federal charges supersede those earlier counts.
If convicted of committing murder during a conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute over 50 grams of meth, Leeper and Nieves Cotto face 20 years to life in prison while all three face a minimum of ten years and up to life in prison for intending to distribute more than 50 grams of methamphetamine. Rodriguez faces additional time for the charge of carrying a firearm while Leeper and Nieves Cotto could face the death penalty for allegations of discharging a firearm in the murder of Chavez.