PORTLAND — It took a jury less than three hours to convict John D. Williams in the death of Somerset County Sheriff’s Deputy Eugene Cole Tuesday.
There was no reaction from Williams as the verdict was read, but it was certainly an emotional moment for Cole’s family.
They said the waiting was the hardest part, but the outcome is exactly what they were hoping for.
It’s a bittersweet day for the family of Cpl. Eugene Cole.
“This won’t bring Gene back,” Tom Cole, Eugene Cole’s brother, told reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict. “There are no winners in a case like this, but maybe now we can start to get some closure. Hopefully we’ll start to sleep at night again and maybe it won’t be out there as much, so maybe the wounds can start to heal.”
A little more than a year after Cole’s death, his killer was convicted of murder.
Prosecutors told the court Williams gunned down Cole in April of 2018 because he was about to be arrested on drug charges and didn’t want to go to jail.
Williams stole Cole’s cruiser, and fled into the woods armed with guns and ammo, launching a four-day manhunt.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said the Cole family “is obviously very happy with the verdict.”
“They’re such a wonderful family,” Marchese said. “The problem with a verdict in a murder case is that it doesn’t bring back your loved one, and that’s really hard. But they’re very grateful to the jury for the hard work that they did in rendering the guilty verdict.”
Tom Cole said it was “really difficult” waiting for the verdict.
“The jury came back to re-watch a piece of
evidence,” he said. “It made it longer and made your mind start to wonder about what was going on. So that was difficult.”
Defense attorney Verne Paradie, who represented Williams, said it was a tough case to defend.
Paradie conceded from day one that Williams killed Cole, but argued he didn’t do so intentionally or knowingly because he was high on crack cocaine and heroin.
“I don’t think it was insurmountable,” Paradie said. “After I gave my closing, I felt some confidence that we had a real shot.”
Prosecutors will seek life in prison.
No date has been set for sentencing, but prosecutors believe it will be sometime in early September.