Capital murder trials set

Oct. 9 for Cotton, Jan. 7 date eyed for Baker

Capital murder trials— including one in which the prosecution will ask for Milam County’s first deat h sentenc e in 19 years—were set during Monday hearings in 20th District Court.

Brandon Charles Cotton, 19, of Rockdale will go on trial Oct. 9. Prosecutor Kerry Spears is seeking the death penalty.

Tanner Aaron Baker, also 19 of Rockdale, will be tried beginning Jan. 7, 2013. He faces possible life imprisonment without parole.

They are accused of the April 25, 2011, shotgun slaying of 50-year old Sandra “Sandy” Phillips of San Gabriel.

Phillips died from two shotgun blasts, apparently as she answered the door of her home on FM 486, according to Sheriff David Greene.

Her husband arrived home after work that day in Rockdale to find his wife dead, their house ransacked and their 2011 Ford Mustang missing.

Within hours, Baker was arrested after the Mustang was located at a Rockdale convenience store.

Cotton was arrested shortly thereafter, on foot, at a different Rockdale convenience store.

Investigators theorized the two, who were also suspects in two other vehicle thefts, saw the Mustang as they drove around the San Gabriel area looking for homes to burglarize.

Investigators believe both were armed, one with a 12-gauge shotgun, the other with a pistol, and Cotton is accused of firing the shotgun.

DE AT H PE NA LT Y—T he last execution involving a Milam County case took place Nov. 10, 1993, when 34-year-old Anthony Quinn Cook was executed for the murder of University of Texas law student David Van Tassell near a roadside park on Texas 36 north of Cameron.

Robert Moore is serving a 50- year prison term in connection with that murder.

Three persons—Gordon Currin, Ben Contreras and Tremain Tunstall—are currently serving life sentences in connection with Milam County murders.

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2012-05-17 digital edition

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