Drake pleads no contest to murder

By Katherine Wartell

Cole Drake, the 16-year-old accused of killing another student, signed a plea deal Wednesday in which he agreed to plead no contest to charges of intentional second degree murder, aggravated robbery and six counts of vehicular burglary. The court found him guilty of those charges later that evening.

County attorney Barry Wilkerson made the arrangement public Thursday.

Drake had originally been charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Tyler Dowling, 14, on April 12, 2011 near Eisenhower Middle School.

The vehicular burglary charges stem from “car-hopping” incidents where Drake was accused of having burglarized parked vehicles. Five of those counts occurred on April 12, while one occurred earlier on Dec. 24, 2010.

Drake signed the agreement through his attorneys Larry McRell and Brenda Jordan with County Attorney Barry Wilkerson and Assistant County Attorney Wes Garrison.

Family members of Dowling were present, along with Drake’s parents, when the court formally accepted the plea deal Wednesday evening and found him guilty of the charges.

Drake’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 29.

The agreement concludes a case that has been closely watched here since Dowling’s body was found in a field near the middle school more than a year ago.

Police questioned Drake, then an MHS freshman, after discovering that he was the last person to see Dowling alive.

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