Murder Suspect Pleads Guilty in 2011 Shotgun Death, Sentenced to Life

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MILAM COUNTY - A 21 year old Rockdale man pleaded guilty to murder Wednesday in a Milam county court.

Brandon Cotton was on trial for capital murder in the 2011 shooting death of Sandra Phillips, of San Gabriel. Prosecutors say Cotton accepted a plea agreement, and that the vicim's family consented and approved a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Prosecutors say they hope this means the family can have closure and the relief of not needing an extended trial, as well as what the District Attorney called an "...endless appeals process".

Police believe Cotton and a comrade, Tanner Aaron Baker shot and killed Phillips before vandalizing her home and stealing her vehicle. Both boys were under the age of 20 at the time.

County officials say Cotton could have faced the death penalty if convicted in a trial - one that would have been the first in Miliam county since the 1980s.