Life sentence imposed for the man convicted of deputy's murder

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PORTLAND, Maine (WABI) - The man convicted of murdering Somerset County Deputy Eugene Cole has been sentenced to life in prison.

That sentence was handed down in a Portland courtroom Thursday afternoon after emotional statements were presented to the judge from the Cole family, including Cpl. Cole's wife Sheryl and their daughter Jill.

In June, it took a jury less than three hours to find 31-year-old John Williams guilty of murder.

At trial, his lawyers argued Williams was under the influence of drugs at the time and he didn't intend to kill Cole.

The jury rejected that claim.

Williams killed Cole in April of last year in Norridgewock in the first law enforcement shooting death in Maine in 30 years.

Williams then took off into the woods, sparking a four-day manhunt.

Prior to the judge's decision about sentencing, the court also heard impassioned statements from the family of Williams who said that they believe that the convicted murderer is "a good person that made a horrible mistake" and that his drug use was to blame for his decision making that led to the shooting of the deputy.

Williams also spoke to the judge on Thursday, stating that the shooting was "born out of panic" and that he has regretted it since, and expressed his sorrow to the Cole family.

Prosecutors asked for a life sentence for Williams, while his defense team had asked the court to consider a sentence of 40 years.

In rendering the sentencing decision, Superior Court Deputy Chief Justice Robert Mullen explained the factors that were considered and defined for those in the courtroom how the statutes impact the imposition of a lawful sentence in a case such as this.

Justice Mullen stated, "Part of the challenge of imposing a fair sentence, is that this sort of thing doesn't happen here," referencing the line of duty death of the deputy.

Outside the courtroom Thursday afternoon, Williams’ defense attorney acknowledge that they do plan to appeal both the conviction and the sentence.