A police affidavit released Monday after the first court appearance of a man accused of slaying a Somerset County deputy sheriff last week points to how the two may have encountered each other, but offers no motive for the crime.
John D. Williams, 29, of Madison is charged with intentional or knowing murder in the death Wednesday of Cpl. Eugene Cole, 61, of Norridgewock. Williams made his first court appearance Monday before Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen at the Capital Judicial Center in Augusta.
Williams, who appeared to be wearing a bulletproof vest under a blue dress shirt in court, was not asked Monday to enter a plea to the charge because he has not yet been indicted by a grand jury.
He softly answered questions from Mullen about whether he understood the charges. Williams said he did.
The judge ordered that Williams be held without bail at the Maine State Prison in Warren, where he has been since his arrest. Mullen also ordered that the defendant undergo a psychological evaluation.
Williams was arrested Saturday on the Norridgewock/Fairfield town line, following an intense four-day manhunt.
According to the affidavit, filed Wednesday by police, Cole began his shift at 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, dressed in his uniform and wearing his gun belt. He was driving a white, marked Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck bearing a county license plate.
Cole apparently was leaving the Cumberland Farms store in Norridgewock sometime after 1 a.m. Wednesday. A sheriff’s pickup truck was parked at the gas pumps and Cole was on the phone with another Somerset County deputy around that time when the call ended abruptly, the affidavit states.
Meanwhile, Williams had asked his friends, Christopher Shulenski, 31, and Brittany Roseberry, 26, of Skowhegan to meet him about 1 a.m. Wednesday at an apartment complex in Skowhegan. He wanted them to drive him to his former residence on Mercer Road in Norridgewock, the affidavit said, which is half a mile from the Cumberland Farms.
When the couple met Williams, he was with Christopher Williams, 39, of Skowhegan. The two men are not related, the affidavit said.
John Williams moved several bags, a bulletproof vest and a shotgun from Christopher Williams’ car to Shulenski’s, witnesses allegedly said. Shulenski and Roseberry both told police that they dropped the defendant off at a home in Norridgewock where John Williams previously lived.
Shulenski told detectives at about 9 a.m. Wednesday — less than two hours after Cole’s body was found in the yard of 16 Mercer Road in Norridgewock — that when he’d dropped off John Williams, he’d seen a Somerset County Sheriff’s Department pickup truck drive slowly by and the driver stepped on its brakes.
Shulenski stated that John Williams told him that he should not leave, but “Shulenski and Roseberry left Norridgewock and returned to Skowhegan,” the affidavit said.
What happened next between Cole and Williams was not included in the affidavit, but John Williams called Christopher Williams at 1:30 a.m. and confessed to killing Cole and stealing the pickup, the document said.
“Chris [Williams] explained that John [Williams] told him Cpl. Cole snuck up on him, or John snuck up on Cpl. Cole,” the affidavit said.
Christopher Williams allegedly told police he picked the defendant up at John Williams’ request on Martin Stream Road. John Williams, who had taken out a crack pipe, demanded the other man’s cellphone and his car. Christopher Williams gave the defendant his cellphone but told him to get out of the car, which he did.
At about 1:45 a.m., a clerk at the Cumberland Farms in Norridgewock reported that a male carrying a handgun in the waistband of his pants took a pack of cigarettes without paying.
Cole’s county-issued vehicle was found at 5:08 a.m. at 508 Martin Stream Road.
Cole’s body was discovered at about 7:30 a.m. by Kimberly Sirois, 54, at her home on Mercer Road, the affidavit said. She told police that John Williams had lived with her until Christmas 2017, when she told him to leave due to drug use. She did not hear gunshots but did hear her dogs barking in the middle of the night and did not get up to check on them, according to the affidavit.
Also made public Monday was Cole’s cause of death, listed in the affidavit as a perforating gunshot wound to the neck with perforation of the cervical spinal cord.
Williams reportedly was distraught over a scheduled court appearance last Wednesday in Massachusetts in an illegal gun case that could lead to a sentence of more than 10 years in prison, according to a spokeswoman for the Essex County district attorney’s office and court documents.
He was arrested in Massachusetts on March 22 and faces a variety of charges, including possessing a firearm without a license. He posted bail on March 31, according to state police and Carrie Kimball Monahan of the Essex County district attorney’s office.
His girlfriend, Kristina A. Pomerleau, 32, of Norridgewock, was arrested on April 21 on drug charges. She remains at the Somerset County Jail unable to post bail.
Williams could face other charges because he allegedly stole Cole’s police vehicle, stole merchandise from a convenience store and may have burglarized camps while fleeing from authorities.
Also Monday, the judge agreed to move the case to Cumberland County.
Defense attorneys Verne Paradie and Patrick Nickerson of Lewiston were appointed to represent Williams.
After the hearing, Nickerson read a statement about his firm’s decision to represent Williams, but took no questions about the case or his client.
Because the alleged crimes took place in Somerset County, Williams’ first appearance typically would have been held at the courthouse in Skowhegan. The Augusta courthouse, which opened in 2014, is considered more secure.
Security in the courtroom was heavy Monday. The case has drawn reporters from as far south as Boston.
If convicted of murder, Williams faces 25 years to life in prison. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has found that a life sentence may be imposed if the victim was an on-duty police officer, as Cole was.
Deputy Attorney General Lisa Marchese said outside the courthouse that her office would seek a life sentence if Williams is convicted of murder.
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