Life, no parole for killer of Danville Police Officer Thomas Cottrell

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Herschel Jones III will spend the rest of his life in prison, with no chance of parole.

Jones pleaded guilty Wednesday to the murder of Danville Officer Thomas Cottrell.

Jones smirked, sneered, and swore through his sentencing hearing in Knox County court. He said one word we'll share- the only one that mattered: "Guilty."

On January 17, 2016, Jones' ex-girlfriend called 911, saying officers were in danger because Jones was armed and "looking to kill an officer."

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

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

"The monster that pulled that trigger not only murdered Tom on January 17, 2016, but also killed those of us who truly loved Tom. Our worlds have been turned so upside down that we don't live anymore. We just exist," said Tanya Elliott, who called Cottrell her life partner. "I lost my best friend, soul mate, future, cheerleader, support system, and role model for my boys and his daughters."

She read a statement from Cottrell's mother Melissa Osborn: "I beg for no mercy to be shown to my son's killer. There was no mercy for my son as he was cowardly ambushed and killed, all because of the uniform he wore."

Cottrell's daughters spoke of their loss.

"He didn't get to see me graduate this weekend with honors," said Courtney Cottrell. "And he won't get to see me off to college this fall, or walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. I know in my heart, that he will be with me every step of the way. But it would be nice just to see him and hug him one more time."

The officers who served alongside Cottrell wore his unit number on their badges.

"Thomas contributed only positive things to society," said Danville Police Chief Daniel Weckesser. "He contributed his time and service to the village of Danville."

They paused for a moment of silence, to remember a man, a father, an officer, and his legacy of service.

"Tom's life mattered," said Elliott. "And Tom will forever- I mean forever- be remembered as a hero."

In exchange for Jones' guilty plea, the prosecution took the death penalty off the table.

The prosecutor's office said Cottrell's family agreed to the deal to avoid the possibility of years of appeals.

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