WAXAHACHIE — A trial date has been set for a former Somervell County Sheriff’s Deputy who allegedly shot at a church last over 14 months ago.
William Lane Cox will take his seat before an Ellis County jury at 9 a.m. on Oct. 31 in the 40th Judicial District Court.
According to a Daily Light article from Aug. 30, 2016, at approximately 6:55 a.m. on July 13, Ovilla Police and Ellis County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church, located at 7810 Shiloh Road off of FM 664. Officers responded to a call of “gunshots fired,” according to an Ellis County Sheriff’s Department arrest affidavit.
Cox was arrested on scene and booked into the Wayne McCollum Detention Center and charged with deadly conduct – discharge of a firearm, the affidavit also states.
Section 22.05 of the Texas Penal Code states that a person can be charged with a third-degree felony if found to “knowingly discharge a firearm at or in the direction of (2) a habitation, building, or vehicle and is reckless as to whether the habitation, building or vehicle is occupied.” The penal code also states that the third-degree felony carries a confinement of up to 10 years, but no less than two years in TDCJ and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
Ellis County Investigator Eric Thompson said Vernon Sansom, the church’s pastor, chose to drop all charges on July 14.
“This incident troubles me greatly because it certainly looks like someone in the law enforcement community was afforded favoritism that others might not be afforded,” Ellis County and District Attorney Patrick Wilson said in a previous article. “You have a law enforcement officer alleged to have committed a violent crime who is arrested by law enforcement officers and investigated by law enforcement agency. And you have a person, the complaint in the matter, who is a law enforcement chaplain and is the preacher at the church. So it is very, very difficult for me to believe that this man, Mr. Cox, was not afforded some special consideration.”
Wilson said this is an allegation of violent behavior, and there is no particular standing for anyone required to pursue the felony charge of deadly conduct.
Cox was indicted by an Ellis County Grand Jury on Aug. 24, 2106. The indictment stated that Cox allegedly discharged a firearm at or in the direction of the Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church and was reckless when he disregard the potential for the building to be occupied.
In the affidavit submitted for probable cause determination, Ellis County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Hilliard stated Cox gave consent to search his vehicle. Hilliard found a .38 caliber revolver and Cox’s identification. A Glock handgun, as well as Cox's truck keys, were laying on the grass near him. Numerous spent casing from both weapons were found in the parking lot at the church.
Sansom allowed police officer’s access into the building to make sure no one was injured inside.
“No one was inside the church although several bullets were located that had penetrated the worship area and lay on the ground from the rear of the worship area to the front,” Hilliard stated. “The door on the side of the worship area had bullet damage on the doorknob and several rounds fired through the door and [laid] inside the door on the ground. A piece of the door locking mechanism (a screw) had been propelled into the piano and stuck in the keyboard cover.”
Hillard stated that Cox was explained his Miranda rights and consented to speak with the investigator. Cox confessed that he had become very intoxicated and was unhappy about the current events in the news and then used poor judgment while discharging his guns.
Somervell County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brian Peterson said, at the time of the incident, Cox was no longer employed with the department and terminated on July 13. Cox started working with the agency on Sept. 13, 2011.