MOUNT VERNON — Admitted cop killer Herschel R. Jones III, 33, will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, without the possibility of parole, after accepting a plea deal in Knox County Common Pleas Court today.
Jones signed an agreement pleading guilty to the aggravated murder of Danville Police Officer Thomas Cottrell, theft of Cottrell’s cruiser and firearm, tampering with evidence and charges of aggravated burglary and kidnapping related to a November 2015 burglary on Wooster Road, Mount Vernon. It was a weapon stolen at that burglary that was used to fatally shoot Cottrell “at close range” on Jan. 17, 2016, according to Knox County Prosecuting Attorney Chip McConville.
Common Pleas Court Judge Richard Wetzel is expected to sentence Jones early this afternoon to life in prison without parole plus 35 years. The suggested sentence was jointly presented to the court by the defense and prosecution teams.
The plea deal, read in court by McConville, stipulates that the agreement is an effort to “protect the public from further crimes,” that could be perpetrated by Jones. In addition, it stated, “no single prison term … adequately reflects the seriousness of the defendant’s conduct.”
Jones faced a potential death penalty sentence as both aggravated murder charges carried the specification. One was because Jones was on parole at the time of the murder and the other because the victim was a law enforcement officer.
The death penalty specifications and a misdemeanor assault charge were dismissed at the start of this morning’s proceedings.
More information will be posted as it becomes available.