Summer or fall date for first capital murder trial

The long-anticipated first capital murder trial involving the April 25, 2011, slaying of a San Gabriel woman, will probably begin sometime between July 23 and Oct. 15.

Prosecutor Bill Torrey and attorneys for Brandon Charles Cotton of Rockdale met Monday in county courthouse to try and hammer out trial dates.

Investigators have accused Cotton of firing the shotgun blast which took the life of 50-year-old Sandra “Sandy” Phillips during the invasion of her San Gabriel area home.

Torrey has indicted he will seek the death penalty.

Tanner Aaron Baker, also of Rockdale, is also charged with murder in connection with Mrs. Phillips’ death.

Start of jury selection hinges on the schedule of lead defense attorney Ross Hunt Sr. of Waco who already has a capital murder scheduled to begin the last week in July in that city.

But attorneys hope to contact Judge Ralph Strother in Waco and switch the dates of that trial with Cotton’s.

That would enable the Cotton trial to begin around July 23.

Bottom line from Monday’s conference is that the date will be set by 20th District Judge John Youngblood after scheduling conflicts are resolved.

Youngblood said a jury call of about 500 is anticipated.

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2013-02-28 digital edition

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