A Maine State Police trooper contradicted a colleague Friday and said he saw the other law enforcement officer strike the suspect in the slaying of a Somerset County sheriff’s deputy after he had been handcuffed.

Cpl. Eugene Cole

The testimony Friday by Trooper Tyler Maloon contradicts what was said Thursday by Special Agent Glen Lang, who admitted that he punched John D. Williams in the face, but said it was because the suspect was resisting being handcuffed and he only punched Williams before the handcuffs were on. Other testimony added to the confusion, with some troopers saying they never saw Lang hit Williams at all and insisted Williams wasn’t mistreated after he was caught in April following a three-day manhunt.

Booking photos showed Williams with a large black eye and other scratches and bruises on his face and body after his arrest.

In testimony Friday morning in Cumberland County Superior Court, Maloon said he saw Lang strike Williams at least once after the handcuffs had been applied.

Williams, 30, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder in the death of Cpl. Eugene Cole last April. His defense lawyers hope to show their client only confessed to the fatal shooting because he feared further violence and was weak from drug withdrawal. The hearing this week – which will be continued in early April – deals with a motion by Williams’ lawyers to bar the use of a videotaped confession when Williams’ murder trial begins.

Officers who helped arrest Williams outside a cabin in Fairfield he broke into have provided different descriptions of the capture. Some said Williams was immediately compliant, others said he “squirmed” while on the ground and resisted the application of handcuffs. Some admitted that they and others called Williams a “piece of (expletive)” as he was led out of the woods, while other testimony said the suspect was treated well and never taunted.

Robert Burke, a state trooper who helped in the manhunt, testified that he arrived a few minutes after the arrest specifically to use Cole’s handcuffs on Williams.

John Williams is led to a cruiser by Maine State Police detectives after being apprehended in Fairfield on April 28 after a four-day manhunt. Staff photo by David Leaming

“I told him these were Deputy Cole’s handcuffs,” Burke said, and added that he told Williams he would relay to Cole’s widow and son that Williams would be wearing the cuffs to jail. Burke, who helped lead Williams out of the woods to be turned over to detectives, said he heard no taunts directed at Williams.

“I was very proud of the way we handled ourselves on the way out,” Burke said. Police even found a yellow blanket to wrap around Williams, securing it with electrical tape. Williams was naked after police pulled off long john’s he was wearing to see if he was concealing a weapon.

“We didn’t want to humiliate him, walking out in front of all those people naked,” Burke said, explaining the use of the blanket.

Lang had also said Williams refused to lift his head for an identification photo, and that Lang pulled the suspect’s head up by his hair to show his face, which had some swelling around his left eye. That photo was leaked on social media and circulated widely. A booking photo taken soon after the arrest also showed Williams’ left eye was blackened and swollen shut.

But Friday, several state trooper detectives said there was never any confusion over Williams’ identity in the arrest, and Williams’ lawyer, Verne Paradie, questioned the need for the photo.

Prosecutors spent Friday afternoon playing hours of video and audiotape of police interactions with Williams on the afternoon of his capture. During most of an hour-long interview with detectives, Williams is still wearing the yellow blanket that police had wrapped around him, They also provided Williams with a hamburger, french fries and a large bottle of fruit punch, which he consumed quickly.

Detectives even videotaped a re-enactment after Williams agreed to show how he allegedly shot Cole. Detectives gave Williams a red toy pistol to demonstrate how he handled the weapon and they shot video of the re-enactment, staged outside the Waterville police headquarters, where Williams was initially taken after his capture.

John Williams’ booking photo, at left, and a photo widely circulated on social media showing him shortly after his arrest. Police photos

Williams, speaking softly and seemingly tired, told the detectives he was outside a relative’s house when Cole drove by, spotted him, and then returned.

According to Williams, Cole told Williams to identify himself. After he did, Cole said, “Thought so. You’re under arrest,” according to Williams.

Williams said he drew a handgun he had tucked into the back of his pants and pointed it at Cole. Cole fell as he backed up and then Williams shot Cole while he was on the ground, Williams said in the videotape.

Paradie said prosecutors have never said why Williams was allegedly going to be arrested and haven’t produced any arrest warrant.

In the interview, Williams tried to say the shooting was done in self-defense, but state police Detective Jason Andrews repeatedly pointed out that Williams had alternatives, including fleeing when Cole fell.

Paradie said that Williams was undergoing drug withdrawal during the interview. He acknowledged that in one audiotape, Williams agrees that Andrews and his partner had been “nice” to him, but Paradie said his client probably feared being turned over to the officers who had arrested him.

On Thursday, two expert witnesses testified that the symptoms of opioid withdrawal that Williams was experiencing and the potential fear of the police could have made him more willing to say what he believed police wanted to hear.

Paradie has asked a judge to throw out all statements Williams made to law enforcement during his arrest and interrogation.

Because of scheduling issues, the hearing will continue on April 8. Paradie said he expects that Williams will testify.

The case was transferred to Cumberland County Superior Court shortly after Williams’ arrest because of the extensive publicity the shooting and manhunt attracted in Somerset County.

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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