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Monday, June 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Death-Penalty Charges for Ohio Officer’s Slaying

MT. VERNON, Ohio (CN) - Prosecutors unveiled a 10-count indictment Monday against the man arrested about 90 minutes after the shooting of an Ohio police officer last month.

Knox County sheriff's deputies found Danville police officer Thomas Cottrell, 34, shot in the head behind the town municipal building at around midnight on Jan. 17. The officer's firearm and police cruiser were missing.

The discovery came approximately 27 minutes after police received a 911 call from woman saying her ex-boyfriend, Herschel Ray Jones III, had just left the house after beating her.

She said he was armed and "looking to kill a cop," according to reports of the press conference hosted Monday by Knox County prosecutor Chip McConville.

Authorities announced that they took Jones into custody at about 1:30 a.m. on Jan 17, after spotting Jones running from a house.

The 10-count indictment handed down Monday charges 32-year-old Jones with multiple felonies that include two counts of aggravated murder with death penalty specifications, grand theft, tampering with evidence, aggravated burglary and kidnapping.

If convicted, Jones could face the death penalty.

Investigators told press Monday the bullet that killed Cottrell came from a Jennings .380 pistol that had been stolen during a November 2015 home invasion.

The burglary victim reported being tied up and duct taped by an unidentified intruder wearing camouflage and a mask. Jones was not identified as a suspect at that time.

Ohio court records tie Jones to a lengthy criminal record that includes charges of breaking and entering, burglary, receiving stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon.

In a 2011 burglary case, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity before changing his plea to guilty.

Prosecutor McConville said Jones will be represented by a public defender, who will request that Jones undergo a mental-competency evaluation, according to news reports.

After Cottrell's shooting, the Danville Police Department posted a statement on its website from Chief Kim Jacobs.

Cottrell "was a victim of a senseless act, seemingly for the uniform he wore rather than any action he ever took," Jacobs said. "His death came far too soon and in a manner than reminds us of the ongoing need to protect citizens and ourselves from others who do evil things.

"From the tributes being said about him, 'Officer Tom' was the kind of officer our community members want to see. Regrettably, his loved ones, friends and community won't have that opportunity anymore. Hundreds of people, including many from our own organization that will attend his service tomorrow didn't know him, but they know officers just like him. As we say good-bye, let us give thanks for him and people like him, who answered the call to serve and protect others. And let us always remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in that noble cause."

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