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Christmas Day shooting

Christmas Day shooting

Cochran pleads not guilty to capital murder

• Defense to include ‘mental disease or defect’ claim

cochran1.jpgDefense attorney Jim Standridge  and Cochran

Article and photo contributed by The Journal Record

News Editor

HAMILTON - Christmas Day 2018 murder-suspect Christopher Andrew Cochran, 29, Hamilton, has plead not guilty to charges of capital murder.

The 25th Judicial Circuit Court held an arraignment hearing for Cochran on Friday, March 1, at the Marion County Courthouse in Hamilton.

Cochran’s court-appointed defense attorney, Jim Standridge of Tuscaloosa, told 25th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Daryl Burt that Cochran is pleading not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

At the arraignment, Standridge also asked the court to release Cochran on bond. Burt denied the request.

Cochran remains in the Marion County Jail in Hamilton without bond.
Cochran was charged with the crime after he allegedly shot and killed Hamilton resident Lorenzo Garcia during a child custody exchange behind the Hamilton Police Department on Dec. 25, 2018.

Prosecutors are trying Cochran under Hollie’s Law, a law which was only just enacted in October 2018 and doubles the penalty for convictions of first-, second- and third-degree domestic violence if a child under the age of 14 witnesses the act.

The law also includes a capital offense of murder if the death is witnessed by a child under 14, and the victim is the parent or legal guardian of the child. In Alabama, capital murder convictions carry the death penalty.

According to Hamilton Police Department Investigator Sgt. Scotty Chandler, the incident occurred during a custody exchange between Garcia and Sami Jo Norgard, the mother of Garcia’s two children, a boy, 3, and a girl, 4.

In a January preliminary hearing, Chandler testified that Cochran had initially fired twice at Garcia and both shots missed. Cochran then allegedly advanced toward Garcia, who was still crouching, grabbed him by the collar and shot him behind the left ear.

Chandler testified that video surveillance footage shows Garcia fall to the ground, whereupon Cochran fired another round into the right side of Garcia’s head.

Chandler said that the 4-year-old girl was behind Garcia when Cochran fired.

Standridge has said that his client has a defense based on the “Stand Your Ground” law, which was enacted in 2006.

Under Alabama law, a person may use physical force to defend himself or another person from what they reasonably believe to be unlawful physical force from another person.

(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.)

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