Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox won't seek re-election

Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox won't seek re-election

September 24th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News


Those seeking to run for the district attorney seat must qualify for county primaries with the Hamilton County Board of Elections by 12 p.m. on Feb. 20, 2014. The post will be elected Aug. 7, 2014.

Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox.

Hamilton County District Attorney Bill Cox.

Photo by Jake Daniels /Times Free Press.

District Attorney Bill Cox has tried more than 10 death penalty cases in Hamilton County. In three decades of prosecuting, he's had a hand in the county's most crucial criminal cases -- all the while lobbying lawmakers in Nashville for tougher sentences for gang crimes and better rules for prosecuting those who victimize children.

But he said the most difficult thing he's done lately is decide to call it a career.

After 33 years in the office, and 18 at its helm, Cox announced Monday he will not seek a fourth term in 2014.

During his tenure, Cox has made his mark in the courtroom and the state Capitol.

The families of at least two police officers know his work well.

Cox was lead prosecutor in the cases against Jesse Mathews and Marlon Kiser, both of whom were convicted of killing police officers.

Mathews pleaded guilty in 2012 for the April 2, 2011, shooting death of Chattanooga Police Sgt. Tim Chapin. Mathews is serving a sentence of life without parole plus 25 years.

Kiser was convicted in 2003 of the Sept. 6, 2001, killing of Hamilton County sheriff's Deputy Donald Bond. Kiser was sentenced to death.

Cox said he is confident in his abilities now, but worries about performing his duties in six or seven years. The post has an eight-year term.

"I love my job, I'm in good health ... I'm in good spirits but I am 66 years old, and I'll be 67 at the time of the election. If re-elected in 2014, which I'm sure I would be, that would push me into my mid-70s toward the end of the term," a lighthearted Cox said to a room full of Hamilton County Pachyderm Club members. "With respect to some of those in the room, I think for this particular job, I think a younger person is better."

Boyd Patterson, who has been an assistant district attorney under Cox for 10 years, said whoever comes after him will have a high standard to meet.

"Bill Cox is not only a role model for how prosecutors should apply the law and the facts, he is a personal role model for what a prosecutor should value," Patterson said. "Although we are all sad to see him go, his values will be felt for years to come."

Cox was appointed in 1995.

He also prosecuted the case against Timothy McDaniel, who pleaded guilty in August 2005 in the 2002 stabbing death of Chattanooga real estate agent Mary Lou Wojcik. McDaniel received life without parole.

He also oversaw the case against Tony Pope, who pleaded guilty in June 2006 in the May 3, 2005, killings of his wife, Andrea Pope, their infant son, Christian, and his stepdaughter Brianna Justice Moody. Pope received life without parole.

With a year left in his current term, Cox urged Pachyderm Club members Monday to contact their representatives and support the Child Protection Act, which is aimed at trying accused child sex offenders for multiple offenses in one case.

After serving in the military during the Vietnam War, Cox joined the Chattanooga Police Department in 1972 and attended college. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and his law degree from the Nashville School of Law.

He passed the Tennessee Bar exam and began working as a prosecutor for the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office in 1980.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at 423-757-6481 or at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com.