A hearing to consider excluding statements made to police by John D. Williams following his capture in April after allegedly killing a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy is scheduled for Feb. 28 in a Portland courtroom, a major milestone for the case in the coming year.

Lewiston attorney Verne E. Paradie Jr., appointed by the court to represent Williams, said in a telephone interview that anything Williams said to police after his arrest should not be allowed as evidence in court because he was beaten badly by police and was withdrawing from drugs.

Williams, 29, of Madison, is charged in the shooting death of Cpl. Eugene Cole in the early hours of April 25 in Cole’s hometown, Norridgewock. His trial is tentatively scheduled for June 2019.

As for the Cole family, Tom Cole, Cpl. Cole’s brother, said Thursday that they are “still taking it day by day.”

“Holidays are tougher than I thought, but making it through thanks to family and friends,” he said.

He said Eugene’s Cole wife, Sheryl, moved into her new house built with donations from the community, just before Christmas. “It’s beautiful,” Tom Cole said.

Cole, 61, became the first Maine police officer fatally shot in the line of duty in three decades. Williams pleaded not guilty to the murder charge in June. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.

“In my motion to suppress I raised the issue that he was going through significant withdrawal symptoms and had been beaten pretty badly by the police,” Paradie said. “Opiates, crack and cocaine — he was doing quite a bit of everything. He clearly was suffering from withdrawal from the opiates.”

Paradie’s court filing states that a confession is admissible only if it was given “knowingly, understandably and voluntarily, and the state has the burden to prove voluntariness beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“Obtaining confessions by physical abuse constitutes an egregious violation of an underlying principle of our criminal justice system … that ours is an accusatorial and not an inquisitorial system,” the motion states.

In their motion, Paradie and co-counsel Patrick Nickerson, say that “despite zero resistance by Mr. Williams, officers beat and pummeled him to the point of causing him to defecate himself. Photos show that the officers severely injured Mr. Williams, kicking him in the head and face, among other things, and causing severe bruising and then holding up his head by the back of his hair like a game trophy.”

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, one of the prosecutors in the murder case against Williams, asked a judge in October to subpoena records — documentary or electronic evidence — from the ambulance service that treated Williams after his arrest.

Zainea said by phone Thursday that the request for a subpoena of the “run sheets” from the Delta Ambulance staff’s treatment of Williams at the Waterville Police Department was granted by Justice Robert Mullen.

The request came in response to Paradie’s motion to suppress.

This photo taken April 28 by Maine State Police on shows the moment when law enforcement apprehended John D. Williams, sought in the slaying of Cpl. Eugene Cole, of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. Maine State Police did not release the photo officially — it was first leaked on social media — but they later confirmed that they had taken the photo and posted it on the agency’s official Twitter and Instagram pages.

“The request was for the ambulance run sheet for the date of arrest,” Zainea said, declining to comment on the details of the motion. “I’m not going to discuss that. It was for Delta records.”

Zainea sought the ambulance records to determine Williams’ physical condition and mental capacity at the time of his arrest, according to motion.

Williams was arrested April 28 in a wooded area of Fairfield, ending a nationwide manhunt that lasted four days and involved an estimated 200 law enforcement officers from multiple jurisdictions.

Lt. John Cote, then the second in command at state police and soon to be sworn in as colonel and chief of the Maine State Police, said Williams was found in an area known as Lost Brook, between Martin Stream Road and Route 139. He said Williams exerted “limited resistance.”

According to police documents, John D. Williams told Christopher “Chris” Williams, 39 — who told police he was not related to the suspect — in a call at 1:15 a.m. April 25 that he had shot Cole in the head.

Williams was taken to the Waterville Police Department for questioning after being checked medically by emergency medical services and then would be transferred to the state correctional center in Windham to await his first court appearance.

According to a court affidavit filed by Detective Jason Andrews, of the Maine State Police, Williams was read his Miranda rights at the Waterville police station, waived his rights and told investigators that he was willing to talk about the incident involving Cpl. Cole.

During the recorded interview with police, Williams told detectives that he had shot Cole, according to the affidavit, indicating that Cole had interrupted him while he was trying to enter a home in Norridgewock where he had lived for a time.

Williams claimed he “got the drop” on Cole and shot him in the head after Cole had tripped backward and fallen to the ground during the initial arrest attempt in Norridgewock, according to court documents.

Cole’s marked police truck was found at 5:08 a.m. at 508 Martin Stream Road in Norridgewock.

Cole’s body was located about 7:30 a.m. that day at the home of Kimberly Sirois at 16 Mercer Road, Norridgewock, where Williams reportedly had lived until Christmas 2017.

Sirois told police she looked out her back door and saw the officer’s body lying in her yard.

A massive manhunt followed over the next four days involving an estimated 200 police officers, sheriff’s deputies and game wardens from all over Maine and from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as well as federal agents from the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Border Patrol and the U.S. Marshals Service. Helicopters were deployed when the weather allowed.

Police cuffed Williams using Cole’s handcuffs. Authorities said Williams, who looked worn out when he emerged from the woods shirtless and barefoot, exerted “limited resistance.”

A photograph taken after Williams’ arrest shows bruising around his left eye.

The photograph of Williams’ head being raised from the ground was taken by the arrest team to confirm Williams’ identity as the man they had been looking for, Cote said at the time, because Williams was not cooperating in having his picture taken.

“The suspect would not facilitate in displaying his face for that photograph to be taken so we had to facilitate that,” he said.

A mental health examination, ordered when a friend said Williams had been “paranoid” about going to jail in Massachusetts on unrelated gun charges, was ordered. Williams was arrested in Massachusetts in March on gun possession charges and was due in court in that state later on the same day when Cole was shot.

Paradie said Williams has been moved from the state correctional center to the Cumberland County Jail. He remains held without bail.

“He’s fully done withdrawal, so healthwise he’s doing great,” he said. “Obviously, nobody likes to be in jail, but he’s holding up pretty well.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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