Trial for man accused of killing Cpl. Eugene Cole begins

PORTLAND, Maine (WABI) - The long anticipated trial of the man accused of killing Somerset County Corporal Eugene Cole began Monday.

John Williams is charged with murder.

The trial is being held in Portland.

The prosecution and defense both delivered their opening statements.

Both agree that John Williams is the one who pulled the trigger, killing Corporal Eugene Cole, however, his defense says Williams was under the influence of drugs and didn't understand his actions.

The state argues Williams knew exactly what he was doing when he placed the gun against Cole's neck.

Assistant District Attorney Leane Zainea says, "That night, Corporal Cole's watch didn't end like it had so many times before. Instead, early in the morning of April 25th, when he should have been returning to his home, Corporal Cole was lying on the ground of the dooryard of 16 Mercer Road in Norridgewock."

Zainea showed the jury the 9 millimeter gun she says Williams used to shoot Cole, taking them through the events that unfolded that night.

She says Williams knew what he was doing when he pulled the trigger.

Zainea says, "If you apply your common sense and reason and conclude that as Corporal Cole was on the ground, begging for his life, the defendant pointed the gun directly at his neck and fired, then he must have intended or at least new that death would occur."

Williams Defense Attorney, Verne Paradie says, "John Williams, who sits here today, who you will see and hear, is a completely different person than existed on April 25th."

Williams' defense argues the amount of drugs Williams was using impaired his judgement, and he didn't intend on killing Cole.

Paradie says, "This is a man who was in the throws of a significant drug addiction. In his intoxicated state, Mr. Williams immediate intention was to not go to jail. So, while he intentionally pulled the trigger, you will have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that when he pulled that trigger, it was his intention or knowing thought to kill Corporal Cole."

The prosecution called several witnesses to testify, including Kimberly Sirois who helped raise Williams.

She told the jury she heard a helicopter land near her house on April 25th, and as she looked out, she saw Cole's body lying in the yard.

She said she called out to him but got no response. That's when she began to scream and yell for help.

Another witness, Christopher Shulenski was called to testify.

He bought drugs from Williams the day before Cole was killed and gave him a ride around midnight to the home on Mercer drive in Norridgewock where Cole was shot.

He says Williams didn't seem himself that night, he seemed nervous, scared and delusional.

Paradie says he feels Shulenski's testimony was helpful for his case.

He says, "Mr. Shulenski's testimony was even more compelling than what he had told police. He hadn't mentioned that what he considered Mr. Williams speaking in riddles, being delusional and just completely not making sense. All of that was very helpful to our defense which is that he was delusional."

Paradie says he is unsure if they'll put Williams on the stand.

If convicted, Williams faces 25 years to life in prison.

The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.