Jury Finds Maine Man Guilty in Killing of Cpl. Eugene Cole

Closing arguments wrapped up on Tuesday morning paving the way for jury deliberations to begin

A Maine man accused of placing a gun to the neck of a sheriff's deputy and pulling the trigger has been convicted of murder.

It took 12 people under four hours Tuesday to find John Williams guilty of shooting Cpl. Eugene Cole on April 25, 2018.

After being requested to say "yes" or "no" when asked if Williams committed murder, the jury's foreman and each individual juror said "yes" in front of the court Tuesday afternoon.

For Cole's family, the decision means peace after more than a year waiting for justice.

"It doesn't bring Gene back, but it is a bit of closure for us," said Cole's brother, Tom.

For six days, the fallen deputy's wife, brother and children watched as attorneys argued about facts in the case.

Even as late as Tuesday afternoon, they had to see images of Cole's handgun, still strapped to his lifeless body while it was still lying on the ground.

"That just made it longer and made your mind start to wander about other things going on," said Tom Cole.

Both sides in the case had agreed that Williams fired the shot that killed Cole last year. The trial focused on his state of mind.

The defense contended Williams' drug use and lack of sleep left him too impaired to meet the legal standard for intentionally killing Cole.

But Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said Williams understood what he was doing and the consequences of his actions.

Cole was shot when he tried to arrest Williams during a late-night encounter in Norridgewock. Williams was arrested several days later outside a cabin after a manhunt.

Outside the courthouse after Tuesday’s verdict, Cole's family hugged prosecutors thanking them for their work on the case.

Williams' defense attorney, Verne Paradie, left disappointed but not surprised at the outcome of the trial.

"It was a tough case to defend all along," he told reporters.

Paradie also said Williams himself was disappointed and plans to appeal.

The defense attorney doesn't believe the trial was impossible for Williams to win, despite the defendant's own confession to police that he killed Cole, which the defense never disputed.

"I don't think it was insurmountable," said Paradie, who had argued Williams intentionally pulled the trigger of the gun without the intent of ending Cole's life and had been too high on drugs to realize what he was doing.

Meanwhile, state prosecutors said they were confident in their case against Williams because of multiple powerful pieces of evidence they could present to prove the exact opposite of Williams' claims.

"The confession, in my view, was the most compelling piece of evidence," said Marchese. "His actions around the time of the homicide clearly showed he intended to kill Corporal Cole."

Prosecutors expect a sentencing date for Williams in September and plan to ask the judge to keep him in jail for life.

Williams' defense says it will ask for a sentence as close as possible to the minimum 25 years allowed by law.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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