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Malone’s bail was revoked, and sentencing was set for April 21st.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