NO MURDER TRIAL
Brandon Charles Cotton, 21, of Rockdale, avoided a possible death penalty Wednesday by accepting a life without parole plea bargain in the April 25, 2011, shooting of San Gabriel resident Sandra "Sandy" Phillips.
Prosecutor Bill Torrey said Cotton admitted his guilt and accepted the sentence which was offered with the "consent and approval" of the Phillips family.
"They are relieved they won't have to endure trial, and the endless appeal process, and can finally have some closure," Torrey said.
The trial was to have begun Dec. 2. Jury selection had been underway for the past six and one-half days prior to the 20th District Court session late Wednesday.
"The defendant probably saw the writing on the wall and could see that the people of Milam County take this kind of violent crime very seriously," Torrey said.
Tanner Aaron Baker of Rockdale also faces a murder charge in connection with the shooting of Mrs. Phillips at her home. That trial is still pending.