PORTLAND — The man convicted of shooting Cpl. Eugene Cole is asking the state’s highest court for a new trial.
Madison resident John Williams was convicted last year in the intentional murder of Cole, a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy trying to arrest him.
Cole was on duty on April 25, 2017 when he slipped in the mud and, prosecutors say, Williams pulled out his 9 mm Ruger, switched off the safety and knelt down to shoot the deputy in the neck.
An expert at the trial demonstrated how he believed the shooting took place. Williams’ attorney objected to the demonstration and is asking the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to grant an appeal.
“This trial was fought on the grounds of was it murder or was it manslaughter. And this demonstration highlighted the shooting reconstruction testimony that showed that this was an execution murder which demonstrates beyond all doubt that this was an intentional homicide, not a manslaughter,” said Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber.
Williams’ attorney, Verne Paradie, also argued that his confession was coerced.
“There were threats and taunts coming out of the woods. He was confronted by 20 — at least 20 officers — before the other officers took him in,” he said. “And, I guess, is the law you have to be beaten to get a confession or do you have to be beaten and be afraid you’re going to be beaten further if you don’t confess? And I would suggest it’s the second of those.”
Paradie’s last argument is his client didn’t deserve a life sentence. One justice said the trial judge clearly weighed the mitigating and aggravating factors.
“In the weeks preceding the killing, he was on a drug- and weapon-fueled rampage,” Justice Ellen Gorman said. “There is really no other word for it. And that is what the judge is required to sentence — his actions at the time of the crime.”
The high court is expected to issue its decision in writing.