Attorney Says Man Accused Of Killing Deputy Was Beaten During Arrest

Aug 31, 2018

John Williams, accused in the fatal shooting of Somerset County Sheriff's Deputy Eugene Cole, sits with an attorney during his initial court appearance on a murder charge, Monday, April 30, 2018, in Auburn, Maine.
Credit Marina Villeneuve / AP Photo

The lawyer for John Williams – the man accused of killing Somerset County Deputy Corporal Eugene Cole this April – is asking a judge to suppress Williams’ confession. Williams was the subject of a four-day long manhunt following the discovery of Corporal Cole’s body near a house in Norridgewock, and, according to his attorney, he was badly beaten while in custody.

Shortly after John Williams’ arrest, police circulated images of the man accused of killing Somerset County Sheriff's Corporal Eugene Cole. In one image Williams is lying on the ground with his head pulled back, and in his mug shot Williams appears to have a black eye.

This month Williams’ attorney Verne Paradie filed a motion that says these images support the claim that officers beat John Williams as he was taken into custody.

“The police officers, when they arrested Mr. Williams, were extremely physical with him, to the point that he sustained serious injuries that you could see in photographs that were released by them,” Paradie says.

Paradie’s motion says that police kicked Williams in the head and face and beat him severely. He also says Williams’ was going through opiate withdrawal at the time of his confession.

“From what I understand from a medical perspective, a person isn't thinking clearly, and they're just focusing on their physical pain, and they're craving to get more of the drug,” says Paradie.

The motion says that these actions violate the legal requirements that confessions be given knowingly, understandably and voluntarily. Paradie says his client was in no state to confess to the crime after being detained.

“By the time the detectives got him he was cold, hungry, wet, tired and injured,” Paradie says. “And, most importantly, in the middle of an opiate withdrawal.”

Williams' booking photo
Credit Somerset County Jail

A state police spokesperson declined to comment, but following Williams’ capture Maine State Police Chief John Cote addressed media questions about the images taken of the suspect, saying that the photo of Williams on the ground was needed for identification purposes.

“The suspect would not facilitate in displaying his face for that photograph to be taken,” Cote said. “So we had to facilitate that. Subsequent to that arrest he was checked by EMS, was uninjured and was transported by law enforcement.”

Paradie says that “he did give limited resistance. The further detail about that will come out at a later date.”

Paradie says he filed the motion to suppress William’s confession now because it took some time to go through all of the documents during the discovery process. He says it’s possible the case could go to trial in May.