Brandon Cotton (Jail photo)
CAMERON (August 28, 2012)—The Oct. 9 capital murder trial of Brandon Charles Cotton, 19, was reset to Jan. 7, 2013 after the lead defense attorney said he has a conflicting trial date in McLennan County.
Judge John Youngblood reset the trial after Waco attorney Russ Hunt, Sr., said he is involved in a capital murder trial in Waco around the same time and asked the Milam County district court to delay Cotton’s trial until after the other issue is settled.
Hunt said the Waco trial is set for testimony to begin on Oct. 22, but because jury selection in the Cotton trial was set for Oct. 9 and is expected to last as long as six weeks, there would not be time to complete both without a conflict.
Cotton faces trial in the April, 25, 2011 death of Sandra Phillips, 50, of San Gabriel, who was gunned down at her home on Farm-to-Market
Road 486 during what investigators called a home invasion robbery.
Milam County District Attorney Kerry Spears already has announced she would seek the death penalty against Cotton.
Cotton's co-defendant, Tanner Aaron Baker, 19, is set for trial on Jan. 9, 2013, but Spears has said she will not seek the death penalty in his case.
Because Cotton’s trial was moved to a date close to that date, Baker’s trial may require re-setting, as well.
Both Cotton and Baker were indicted by a Milam County Grand Jury on July 19, 2011.
Milam County Sheriff David Green told News 10 he believes Phillips was killed at about noon.
Deputies say the woman's husband discovered her body when he came home from work.
Texas Rangers say Cotton and Baker both have admitted to the murder.
Investigators discovered a white 2011 Ford Mustang that belonged to the victim was missing.
Police officers spotted the vehicle in Rockdale at a local convenience store and arrested Baker who was found driving the car.
Cotton was found about an hour later at a different convenience store and officers arrested him.
Church friends who were at the Phillips residence on the afternoon of the murder told a News 10 reporter the Phillips' have one daughter who is grown and living elsewhere.
They said Phillips was a former New York police officer and Sandra Phillips had been working at a local nursing home.