Brandon Cotton (Jail photo)
CAMERON (October 16, 2013)—Juror qualification began Tuesday in 20th District Court in Cameron for a Rockdale man who is charged with capital murder in the April 25, 2011 shotgun slaying of a San Gabriel nurse.
Brandon Charles Cotton, 21, is charge with capital murder in the death of Sandra Phillips, who was shot during a home invasion at her residence just off Farm-to-Market 486 in San Gabriel residence.
Some 500 prospective jurors were called to court Tuesday and about 210 of them actually checked in for qualification.
State law requires that jurors in capital murder cases when the death penalty is being sought be qualified and then submit to individual interviews before selection actually begins.
The panel that showed up Tuesday was so large that the procedure was moved to Cameron’s Williams Civic Center.
The trial itself is set for December 2 and Milam County District Attorney Bill Torrey said it could last two weeks.
Waco attorneys Russ Hunt, Sr., and his associate Michelle Tuegel, along with Temple attorney Jack Holmes are representing Cotton.
Tanner Aaron Baker, also of Rockdale, is charged with capital murder in Phillips’ death as well but prosecutors have not yet announced if they’ll seek the death penalty in his case..
Texas Rangers say Cotton and Baker both have admitted to the murder.
Deputies say Phillips’ husband discovered her body when he came home from work the day of 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.