Police investigate death of ETSU student   

By Abby Morris
star staff
amorris@starhq.com

  JOHNSON CITY -- Investigators are looking into the death of an 18-year-old East Tennessee State University student who was found unresponsive in her dorm room Tuesday morning.
  According to information released by ETSU, Corri Cates, of Greeneville, was found in her room in Davis Apartments "in a non-responsive state" by her roomate Brittany Easley, an ETSU freshman from Nashville. Easley called 911 and ETSU Public Safety officers and Washington County Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and attempted to revive Cates.
  Cates was transported to the Johnson City Medical Center and was later pronounced dead.
  ETSU Public Safety Chief Jack Cotrel stated that an autopsy has been ordered on the body. The cause of her death is still under investigation.
  Cates' dorm room was in Davis Apartments, which are efficency-style apartments through the ETSU Department of Housing and Residence Life. There are no interior halls in Davis Apartments as all the apartments open directly to the outside. Davis Apartments are an all-male living facility during fall and spring semesters at ETSU, but during the summer semester, the apartment complex is a co-ed facility.
  The Johnson City Police Department has assumed responsibility as the lead investigating agency in the incident and is being assisted by ETSU Public Safety.
  A new law in Tennessee requires college and university public safety departments to allow outside law enforcement agencies to take the role of the lead investigating agency in the investigation of on-campus deaths.
  The law, which was signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen in April of this year, stemmed from the mysterious death of Robert "Robbie" Nottingham from a fall outside his ETSU apartment in March 2003.
  The cause of the 22-year-old Kingsport man's death has yet to be determined.
  After questioning the quality of the investigation by ETSU Public Safety officers, Nottingham's parents, Jim and Mary Nottingham, lobbied for the new law requiring campus officials to allow an outside law enforcement agency to handle the investigation. The law has come to be known as "Robbie's Law."
  Investigators with the Johnson City Police Department could not be reached by phone on Wednesday and calls to their office were directed to ETSU Public Safety. Cotrel stated that he would prefer not to comment on the case since the Johnson City Police Department is the lead investigating agency.