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Feb. 19—The man who killed a Somerset County deputy in 2018 is asking a judge to grant him a new trial, alleging that prosecutors failed to turn over information that could have helped his defense.
An attorney for John Williams, who is serving life in prison for shooting Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole in April 2018 in Norridgewock, said prosecutors did not disclose that one of the Maine state troopers who arrested Williams was disciplined for failing to report misconduct of another officer that occurred during Williams' arrest.
Trooper Tyler Maloon, who was a member of the arrest team that took Williams into custody, testified that he witnessed another trooper on the arrest team, special agent Glenn Lang, punch Williams after he was handcuffed. Lang's account differed from Maloon's, with Lang saying that he punched Williams after he resisted being taken into custody.
Other troopers gave varying accounts of the arrest. 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.
"Unbeknownst to Defendant, one day before his testimony at the suppression hearing, Trooper Maloon was disciplined for failing to provide notice to his chain of command of a potential act of misconduct and to provide proper documentation of the misconduct," according to a complaint filed Friday by Verne Paradie, Williams' defense attorney. "While the disciplinary report does not reference the John Williams incident, it seems highly likely given the nature of the discipline and its timing that it was related to the misconduct of one or more officers during the arrest of Williams."
Paradie wrote in the filing that he recently learned about the discipline, and that his request for the disciplinary record from the Attorney General's Office earlier this month has gone unanswered.
"The State had an obligation to provide this significant information to the Defendant, with or without a request to do so," Paradie wrote. "It is unclear as to why the State did not provide this information, especially given the fact that Defendant specifically requested any such information and given the fact that the conduct during the arrest was a crucial part of the defense's case."
The Attorney General's Office said Friday that it did not know about Maloon's discipline record until Paradie raised the issue. But, spokesman Marc Malon said, the information would not have met the legal standard for disclosure under the Brady and Giglio doctrines, which make it an affirmative duty for prosecutors to turn over exculpatory information or any information that may impeach the credibility of a witness against the defendant.
The Attorney General's Office said investigative reports provided to the defense before trial showed that Maloon did not initially report that Williams was struck by another officer. When Maloon later disclosed that fact to the AG's office, prosecutors "promptly disclosed this exculpatory information to the defense."
"The events that led to the disciplinary action were provided to the defense prior to the Motion to Suppress and the trial," Malon said, noting that Maloon was called as a defense witness.
"The motion for a new trial and the State's position will have a full hearing and we are confident that the State has met its obligations," Malon said.
During his trial and in motions leading up to it, Williams claimed that he was pummeled and beaten by officers when they arrested him April 28 following an intensive, four-day manhunt. Because of the beating, Williams argued that his confession was coerced and that his fear of further violence led him to admit shooting Cole.
But a judge decided only to exclude a portion of the confession that Williams gave, pointing to the kind treatment he received from detectives who interviewed him after he was pulled from the woods. The judge however did exclude a portion of the taped confession that involved a re-enactment of the crime that Williams agreed to perform for detectives.
Williams appealed his conviction to the state Supreme Judicial Court but the justices denied him, affirming his conviction in a November 2020 ruling.
The request for a new trial was filed with Cumberland County Unified Court.