The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday for the second time upheld the conviction of a man serving a life sentence for murdering an on-duty Somerset County sheriff’s deputy four years ago.
John D. Williams, 33, of Madison was convicted by a jury of murdering Somerset County Deputy Cpl. Eugene Cole, 61, in April 2018 in Norridgewock. He is serving a life sentence at the Maine State Prison in Warren.
Williams’ latest challenge sought a new trial based on an arresting officer’s disciplinary record that prosecutors allegedly withheld from the defense.
The state’s high court in November 2020 rejected Williams’ first appeal, in which his attorney Verne Paradie of Lewiston argued that prosecutors should not have presented two law enforcement officers’ re-enactment of the shooting to the jury.
The latest appeal was based on information Paradie learned after his client was convicted and sentenced about the discipline record of Maine State Police Trooper Tyler Maloon, a member of the arrest team. Maloon was disciplined the day before he testified at a pre-trial hearing in which Williams’ defense team sought to suppress from evidence the statements Williams made after his arrest.
Maloon was suspended for one day for failing to provide notice to his chain of command of a potential act of misconduct by another officer and to provide proper documentation of the misconduct, according to the brief.
The alleged misconduct occurred when Maine State Police Lt. Glenn Lang hit Williams twice while taking him into custody. Maloon testified at Williams’ trial that the suspect had been struck.
The Supreme Judicial Court justices agreed with Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen, who denied both motions for new trials after presiding at Williams’ jury trial, that “‘there is literally little to no possibility, much less probability, that if the defense had known about this evidence the result of the trial would have been different.’”
Cole was the first Maine law enforcement officer shot to death in the line of duty in nearly three decades. His slaying sparked a four-day manhunt in which hundreds of law enforcement officers scoured the Norridgewock area for Williams.
Williams was captured on April 28, 2018, in the woods where the manhunt was focused.