Man who killed Maine sheriff’s deputy seeks appeal of conviction, sentence

John Williams was sentenced to life in prison for the 2018 murder of Eugene Cole
John Williams file photo
John Williams file photo(WABI)
Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 12:51 PM EDT
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PORTLAND, Maine (WABI) - Maine’s highest court has heard the appeal of a man convicted of killing a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments in the case via teleconference Tuesday morning.

John Williams, 32, was ordered last September spent the rest of his life in prison. He was found guilty of the 2018 murder of Corporal Eugene Cole three months earlier.

Williams' lawyer, Verne E. Paradie Jr., argues the trial court made a number of errors. Among them, he says Williams' confession was involuntary and should be suppressed, despite contrasting evidence from the state. Paradie also takes issue with the denial of a motion for a mistrial on the grounds that an in-court demonstration of the shooting was prejudicial.

“This trial was fought on the grounds of: was it murder or was it manslaughter?” Assistant Attorney General Donald Macomber said during Tuesday’s hearing. “This demonstration highlighted the shooting reconstruction testimony that showed that this was an execution murder.”

“I suggest to each of you that the two large issues that I’ve raised regard the fairness of his trial individually would warrant a new trial,” argued Paradie. “But together, I believe, even more compelling reason to give Mr. Williams a fair trial.”

The appeal also contends the outcome of a life sentence was decided before William’s sentencing had begun.

The Court will issue its ruling at a later date.

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