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Lawyers seeks to have confession tossed in deputy killing

February 28, 2019
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John Williams, who is accused of killing Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole last year, appears at a hearing, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019, in Portland, Maine. The hearing is on a defense motion to suppress Williams' confession in the case. His attorney has contended Williams was beaten and suffering from opioid withdrawal when he spoke to police after the April 25, 2018 killing. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The man charged with killing a sheriff’s deputy and leading police on a three-day manhunt appeared clean shaven in a courtroom Thursday as attorneys and witnesses argued over whether his confession should be tossed.

A multi-day hearing got underway with the defense contending John Williams was badly beaten and suffering from opioid withdrawal after his arrest for the April 25 killing of Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole.

Williams, 30, allegedly told police he “eliminated” the deputy because he was angry with him for arresting his fiancée following a traffic stop a few days earlier.

Cole, 61, became the first police officer to be killed in the line of duty in nearly 30 years when he encountered Williams on a roadside in Norridgewock.

Williams was arrested outside a remote cabin April 28 after a massive manhunt in the region. He was shirtless and shoeless when he was captured and appeared exhausted when he was led out of the woods.

One expert who focuses on interrogations testified that prolonged isolation, hunger and fatigue could’ve reduced Williams’ decision-making or self-regulation at the time he was being questioned by police.

Another expert testified Williams wasn’t thinking clearly because he was suffering the effects of opioid withdrawal.

On Thursday, Williams was clean cut with closely cropped hair in court, presenting a stark contrast to images circulated after his arrest of a filthy, disheveled man with a black eye.

Police say Williams got a black eye while resisting police during his arrest. His attorney contends Williams did not resist and was beaten to the point he defecated on himself.