Danville cop killer quotes 'Braveheart' before being sentenced to life


A man accused of killing a Danville police officer pleaded guilty in court Wednesday.

Herschel Jones III pleaded guilty to multiple counts, including aggravated murder, in connection with the 2016 shooting death of Officer Thomas Cottrell.

Jones was sentenced to life in prison, plus 35 years, without the possibility of parole. As a result of the plea, prosecutors nullified the death penalty.

On Sunday, January 17, 2016, police say dispatchers received a call from a woman in Danville around 11:20 p.m. She said police were in danger because her ex-boyfriend, Jones, was armed and “looking to kill an officer.”

Dispatchers tried to contact Officer Cottrell who was on patrol but were unsuccessful. A statewide alert was issued and deputies from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office also searched the village, but couldn’t locate the officer.

Around 20 minutes later, Cottrell’s body was found shot to death behind the Danville Municipal Building. His service weapon and cruiser had been stolen.

In his court appearance, Jones did not offer an apology and spent most of the day sneering at the cameras, staring into space and swearing at Officer Cottrell's family.

Before his sentencing, Jones told the court: "You can take my life, but you can never take my freedom."

Jones asked the judge if he would be set free if he died in prison and was resuscitated. The judge told him no.

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