Spears: Death penalty talk ‘too early’

Prosecutor Kerry Spears says it’s too soon to talk about the death penalty in the case of two Rockdale area teens accused of the shotgun slaying of a 50- year-old San Gabriel woman April 25.

“At this point it’s too early to be able to answer any of your questions,” Spears told The Reporter when asked if she planned to pursue capital murder indictments against Tanner Baker, 18, and 19-yearold Brandon Cotton.

The pair were charged with capital murder in connection with the shooting death of Sandra “Sandy” Phillips at her home on FM 486, just east of the San Gabriel community.

Sheriff David Greene said the shooting took place during a home invasion and that a murder committed during the occurrence of another felony qualifies as a capital murder (death penalty) crime.

In the 2005 case of Ben Contreras, accused of killing two Minerva residents, both capital murder and first-degree murder indictments were handed down by the grand jury.

Contreras was prosecuted for first-degree murder, at the wishes of the victims’ family, was convicted and is serving a life sentence.

On Monday, 20th District Judge Ed Magre appointed attorneys to represent the defendants in the court process.

Norman Lanford of Cameron and John Duer of Georgetown will represent Baker, while Cotton’s attorneys will be Jack Holmes of Temple and Ross Hunt Sr. of Waco.

Spears said she did not know when the case would go to the grand jury and Magre estimated a year or more might elapse before it goes to trial.

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2011-05-05 digital edition

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