By Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2020

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - The murder conviction of a man who fatally shot a deputy before stealing his police vehicle and triggering a massive manhunt was upheld by the state Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court unanimously rejected John Williams’ argument that his confession should’ve been suppressed and that the maximum sentence of life in prison imposed by the judge was excessive.

The defense contended Williams was sleep-deprived, experiencing drug withdrawal and fearful after being beaten by police officers when he confessed to killing Cpl. Eugene Cole in April 2018.

Cole, 61, was the first law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty in nearly 30 years in Maine.

In its ruling, the court wrote that drug withdrawal does not automatically render a confession involuntary. It also said Williams was roughed up by arresting officers before being interviewed at a police station.

“We conclude that the trial court did not err in determining that under the totality of the circumstances, the inappropriate force used during Williams’s arrest did not render involuntary his later confession and other statements to the detective,” Justice Thomas Humphrey wrote.

The court also concluded that a demonstration for jurors of how Cole was shot at close range was relevant and that the judge did not abuse his discretion in imposing the maximum penalty.

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