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$1M bond set for Montana woman charged with satanic "initiation" murder

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Posted at 10:14 AM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-12 12:14:14-05

BILLINGS - Bond was set at $1 million Monday for a woman accused of stabbing and killing a man to death inside his home as part of what she described as a satanic "initiation."

Nina Mel Cochran, 32, appeared for arraignment in Yellowstone County District Court and pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide. Cochran is accused of stabbing and bludgeoning to death 64-year-old Douglas Merrill Nielsen inside his South Side residence.

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Nina Mel Cochran

Judge Brett Linneweber set the high bond amount after both a prosecutor and a defense attorney said Cochran has "significant mental health issues." A prosecutor also said Cochran has a prior felony drug conviction and a history of drug use.

Cochran was arrested on Dec. 1 in Park County after a Montana Highway Patrol trooper stopped a reckless driver on Interstate 90 near Big Timber.

During a subsequent interview at the Park County jail, Cochran allegedly told an officer Nielsen was "in his house dead" and that she had killed him as part of a satanic "initiation that the detective would not understand," court records state.

Cochran also reportedly said "she had been born to become Lucifer and rule over the earth," according to court records.

Billings police searched the house on Dec. 6 and found Nielsen's body inside.