SKOWHEGAN — A Somerset County jury found a Palmyra man guilty of murder on Thursday, rejecting his claim that he acted in self-defense in the 2013 beating death of Ricky Cole of Detroit.

Jason Cote, 25, showed little reaction when the verdict was read following about 2 1/2 hours of deliberation by the 12-person jury. Friends and family of both Cote and Cole shed tears.

Cote and his attorneys contended that Cole had threatened Cote repeatedly with a knife, and that Cole beat Cote with a pipe to defend himself. But police never found the knife, which Cote said he threw into the woods after the altercation.

Cote faces 25 years to life in prison for the murder.

Outside the court on Thursday afternoon, Cole’s family members stood in the rain and talked about their loss. Members of Cote’s family declined to comment.

“We’re just glad justice is getting served,” said Cole’s brother, Tom Cole of Rochester, New Hampshire. “Two and a half years is a long time, and we’re hoping everything works out in the best for us and hopefully (Cote) gets what he deserves,” he said. “Justice is going to get served.”

Tom Cole and other family members said they hope Cote is sentenced to life in prison. The sentencing has not been scheduled and Cote will be held without bail until then.

“Even if he gets life, his family is still going to be able to see him. We have to see our brother, my dad has to see his son, by a cemetery. It’s not fair,” Tom Cole said.

Carmen Stanton, Ricky Cole’s sister, said that although attorneys portrayed Cole as an intimidating drug dealer with a history of threatening others, that was not the person his family knew.

“He was a good guy,” said Stanton, of North Conway, New Hampshire. “He wasn’t the guy they said he was. He was a great guy and a great father.”

The jury began deliberating shortly after noon and came back with the verdict about 2:30 p.m. The decision followed closing arguments, which focused on the manner in which Cole died and whether Cote was justified in using deadly force against him. Cole was beaten to death with a pipe, according to testimony.

Attorneys for both sides described Cole’s intimidating personality, including the “R.I.P.” tattoo across his neck, his reputation as a drug dealer, and his manslaughter conviction for killing two people while driving drunk in New Hampshire. Witnesses testified that he threatened to kill people and had an imaginary friend, Vern, who told him to hurt or kill people.

Those traits may have caused Cote to fear Cole, but were not grounds to take his life, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea said. Despite Cole’s threats, he had never hurt Cote previously, she said.

“I suspect you may not like Ricky Cole or his lifestyle,” she told the jury Thursday. “But this trial isn’t about who you like or don’t like. It’s about evaluating the evidence presented to you.”

One of Cote’s attorneys, Stephen Smith, described in his closing argument a “struggle between two men” in which Cote was lucky to come out alive. On Wednesday, Cote testified that Cole had asked him to come to his home in Detroit on July 17 to talk and had promised him drugs in return.

“I chose to go there because I was a drug addict and I wasn’t going to say no to doing drugs,” he said.

On the same day, a federal agent for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had subpoenaed Cote to testify against Cole in a weapons investigation. In court testimony Wednesday, Cote said Cole had asked him to “take the rap” for guns that Cole possessed illegally. But Cote said he had told Cole he feared he would be arrested for lying to a federal agent.

Cote testified that the discussion turned violent when Cole picked up the metal pipe, and then a knife, and threatened Cote.

“Ricky Cole was pacing back and forth with a knife. He was angry, angry at Jason because he knows the ATF had been at Jay’s house that day,” Smith said. “Jay was in a very bad situation, with Ricky Cole swinging pipes, waving around knives.

What’s he going to do?”

Zainea, in turn, argued that Cote had opportunities to leave but didn’t. After he had struck Cole and Cole was lying on the floor, still alive, Cote continued to beat him.

“He didn’t have time to think, ‘Is (Cole) bleeding?’ ‘What should I do next?’ Smith countered. “This wasn’t a movie. It was real life, and he was afraid for his life.”

Blood splatter in the house indicated that Cote had swung the pipe at Cole as many as four times after he fell to the floor and that he had a skull fracture possibly caused by someone stomping on his head, according to experts who testified earlier in the trial.

Cote said he took Cole’s pants, a comforter, cellphone, the knife and the pipe and left after the altercation. He threw the pants, comforter and pipe into a pond on the property, and police recovered them the next day. His own clothes – which were stained with Cole’s blood – were found under a vacant mobile home next to his own in Palmyra.

Cote attributed his actions after the beating to shock, saying he didn’t even remember taking the comforter until he appeared in court, and that he didn’t know why he had taken Cole’s pants. In three interviews with police recorded in July 2013, Cote never once said he had gotten into a fight with Cole, though he had told friends that night that he “did something (expletive) up.”

The following day Cote also told a friend that he slit Cole’s throat, the friend, Heidi Woodbury, testified.

“Even if he was in shock and felt he hadn’t been treated well by police, surely he could have told his good friend that he killed Ricky in self-defense,” Zainea said. “Instead he told Heidi Woodbury, when she asked him, ‘Did you cut him from his throat to his groin?’ ‘No, I slit his throat.’ ”