Man pleads responsible to 2018 Christmas Day killing throughout youngster custody swap in Alabama police division car parking zone

A 33-year-old man has pleaded guilty to the killing of another man during a child custody exchange.

The deadly shooting happened on Christmas Day 2018 in the parking lot of the Hamilton Police Department.

Christopher Andrew Cochran was initially charged with capital murder in the shooting death of 48-year-old Lorenzo Jose “Joe” Mercado Garcia.

Garcia was dropping off his two children, then ages 3 and 4, to be picked up by their mother. Cochran, the mother’s boyfriend, fatally shot Garcia while the children were still present.

He was charged under Hollie’s Law, enacted just a month before Garcia’s killing, which made the murder of a parent or guardian a capital offense if it is committed in the presence of a minor younger than 14.

The law was named after Hollie Newbury, a 24-year-old Lauderdale County woman was shot and killed by the father of her children as they met for a child custody exchange in 2009.

Scott Slatton, district attorney for Alabama’s 25th Judicial Circuit, on Sunday announced Cochran’s guilty plea to a reduced charge of manslaughter. He said the agreement was reached after the victim’s family expressed interest in settling the case without having to endure a lengthy trial.

Cochran, who has been jailed since 2018, received a 20-year prison sentence. He entered the plea and received the sentence on Friday.

Cochran will remain in the Marion County Jail until he is transferred to the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections.

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