Jerica Cotton, alleged getaway driver after shooting death of gas station clerk reaches plea deal

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WAUKESHA COUNTY — 24-year-old Jerica Cotton, the alleged getaway driver in the armed robbery/shooting death of a Waukesha gas station clerk in January 2015 has reached a plea deal in the case against her.

Jerica Cotton

Jerica Cotton

Cotton on Monday, February 22nd pleaded guilty to armed robbery as party to a crime — an amended charge.

Cotton will be sentenced on April 28th.

Cotton is one of three charged in this case. Just last week, on February 18th, a jury returned a guilty verdict for 29-year-old Darrin Malone.

The jury found Malone guilty of felony murder (as party to a crime, repeater).

The guilty verdict came on the fourth day of Malone’s jury trial. Deliberations began at 12:03 p.m., and jurors returned the guilty verdict at 2:38 p.m.

Malone’s bail was revoked, and sentencing was set for April 21st.

On January 13th, 2015, two masked men robbed the Waukesha gas station near Whiterock Avenue and Moreland Boulevard. Prosecutors say one of them was Malone. They say the other was Kenneth Thomas — who allegedly shot and killed the store clerk.

Malone was charged with felony murder even though he did not pull the trigger — because someone died while a crime was being committed.

Jerica Cotton, the alleged getaway driver, was also initially charged with felony murder.

Kenneth Thomas, Jerica Cotton, Darrin Malone

Kenneth Thomas, Jerica Cotton, Darrin Malone

Kenneth Thomas faces a number of charges, including:

  • First degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, repeater
  • Armed robbery, repeater (two counts)
  • Felon in possession of a firearm, repeater (two counts)
  • Intentionally selling a dangerous weapon to a child, repeater
  • First degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon, repeater

Police say Malone went into the gas station on the night of the robbery/fatal shooting — following behind Thomas. Cotton, police say, was the getaway driver.

Saeed Sharwani (Photo: Waukesha PD Facebook page)

Saeed Sharwani (Photo: Waukesha PD Facebook page)

According to the criminal complaint, Malone supplied the masks that were used in the crime. Thomas told police “Malone was behind him (when they walked into the gas station) and that the clerk started freaking out and so did he. Thomas stated that the clerk ran out as he climbed over the counter. Thomas stated that the clerk then came around and grabbed him and the next thing he knew, the gun went off.” The complaint indicates that Malone asked Thomas “if he did it on purpose and Thomas said no.”

Police arrested Thomas, a convicted felon, in West Allis less than 10 hours after the shooting. Cotton was also quickly apprehended. Darrin Malone, however, was on the run until February 23rd, 2015 — more than a month after the shooting.

Police believe Thomas and his accomplices were involved in at least six robberies in four jurisdictions. Their crime spree touched the communities of West Allis, Milwaukee, the Town of Brookfield and the city of Waukesha.

Thomas has a plea hearing scheduled for February 26th.

5 comments

  • Charles

    Pathetic! She is just as guilty of murder as the other two. All three took part in the robbery and someone got killed! This is definitely PART of whats wrong with the Justice system! My condolences to the family of the victim!

  • Susan

    Charles, were you in the court room, listening to the story? The details? You don’t know her involvement, only the charges because she dropped the 2 robbers off. Of course from all the video that was shown on the news, for sure the 2 guys charged are guilty. They also had horrible criminal records. She had no record of anything. I think she just got mixed up with some people she didn’t know anything about their bad side and got asked for a ride and didn’t know what they were up to. Just my opinion. I feel sympathy for the victim’s family and loved ones and feel bad for the family of this girl. It’s pretty hard to deal with the courts system, no matter if you are guilty, not guilty or a victim.

    • Charles

      i don’t care what you have to say Susan! Had she not driven them there, this murder might not have happened! she is guilty of murder because she took part in a planned robbery that caused another human to be killed. i have NO RESPECT for people like her or the two loser guys! plead your case to someone else. She is a criminal and deserves to be in jail for a very long time!!!!!!

      • Susan

        Well, Charles, it does sound like you care what I think or write because you are so freaked out by what I wrote. Obviously can’t understand what I responded to what you wrote. I am only saying that you don’t know if she knew what they were planning. You are assuming she was part of the planning. She agreed to drop them off, giving them a ride that they asked for. You don’t know if she knew about what they were doing. From what I read, she didn’t know. And didn’t really know these two people well, had met them from barely knowing someone else. All the information doesn’t go on the news, you have to be in the courtroom to hear more details. I am not pleading anyone’s case. And I don’t have respect for any of them or you for that matter either. It’s not about respect, I can just see there is more to this story than you can figure out.

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