1985

January
The Bangor Daily News reported in December  that Sharon Sargent testified at a bail hearing that the reason the three men killed Mike was because they believed Mike had set up Percy Sargent for his drug arrest.
      Thinking back to reading in the BDN the last of February 1981 that Percy Sargent had been arrested in a Maine DEA undercover drug bust less than four hours before Mike was murdered, I wholeheartedly believed her story. But I knew that Mike was no police informant.     
      Shuman had admitted to me in the fall of 1983 that Percy Cote was working undercover with the Maine DEA the night Mike was murdered. He said there were times they had to work that way—use criminals to catch criminals.  He also said that Percy Sargent did have Mike killed but it had nothing to do with Mike's murder.  He said Percy and Mike had planned a drug rip-off and when Percy was arrested he feared Mike would reveal their plans and had Mike killed.
      I didn't believe him. I still believed that Mike lost his life because of Percy Cote's work with the Maine DEA. Percy Sargent knew Percy Cote as a drug dealer with a long drug record. Mike was an outsider and Percy Sargent immediately suspected him.  
      I decided to call BDN investigative reporter A. Jay Higgins. My last contact with Higgins was in 1981 when he wrote articles about DA Cox finding us in default on our murdered son’s bail bond. I wanted to tell him that I believed Sharon Sargent’s story and that I wanted it known that Mike was not guilty of being an informant. But when I reached Mr. Higgins, he said he couldn’t speak with me about the case because Shuman had contacted him and requested he not print anything about the case for the Cochran family at that time. I had waited nearly four years for someone to be brought to justice for Mike’s murder and now Shuman was using his authority to suppress anything I had to say about my son’s murder. Shuman had not contacted me to say he didn’t want me talking to the news.
    After hanging up and thinking about what Shuman was doing I decided to call the Bangor Daily News Office and let them know how unfair I thought this was. I was referred to Kent Ward (a BDN columnist). I told Mr. Ward what investigative reporter Higgins had said. “He can’t do that,” was his response. Mr. Ward said he and Mr. Higgins would meet with me at the newspaper office on Main Street in Bangor the next day. Derry and I went to meet with the two men.
     The following day, January 11, 1985, Higgins article ran with the headline Mother of Micheal Cochran says son was fingered as drug informant. He began his article by saying “One dealer calls another pusher a ‘rat,’ his girlfriend reiterates the allegation to a friend, and the pusher turns up dead.” This confused me. Was he saying that someone called Mike a rat and his girlfriend (Linda Gray) told it to a friend and it cost Mike his life?  
     Higgins’ referred to drug pushers as a profession to which Percy Sargent was no stranger. His drug record at that time extended over a period of 10 years, from 1971 to 1981. He had been convicted for dealing in marijuana, heroin, cannabis, narcotic drugs, LSD, PCP, and amphetamine. He also had a record for disorderly conduct, willful damage to property, and rape. His conviction for drug trafficking the night Mike was murdered was not on his SBI record when I obtained it. 
     Higgins reported that I believed Mike was murdered nearly four years ago because “someone fingered him as a drug informant.... She and her son, Derald (Derry), are equally certain that whoever started the rumor is just as responsible for the February 18, 1981 fire that burned the cabin in which Mike’s body was found. ...” Derry and I told the news that the state knows Micheal was not the informant. But he lost his life because of an informant.
      Higgins went on to say that we had spent the last four years trying to piece together the events that led to Mike’s death and that we believed that Meyers, Johnson, and [Richard] Sargent may be somehow involved in Mike’s death and we believed it is possible that the trio believed that Mike may have given information to the police prior to the Holden drug bust. And if that assumption was correct, we insisted that the men were wrong to believe that Mike was an informant who worked with police on February 18, 1981. Higgins said that we wanted the state to set the record straight on the alleged actions of the late Micheal Cochran.

March
 Higgins next article reported that the state was reconsidering Sharon's role as chief witness (only witness). For three months, the state’s star witness stood by her testimony,  but on the weekend of March 9-10, 1985, Higgins reported state attorneys were weighing Sharon Sargent's role as a chief witness.
     Higgins said that Sharon Sargent’s polygraph results were “inconclusive” and that prosecutors had spent two weeks trying to determine the accuracy of her testimony. Higgins’ report said that state’s lone witness had stood by her testimony, but had reportedly changed her story when she met with Marshal Stern, defense attorney for Richard Sargent (and for Mike) in February.
    The meeting had been recorded and transcribed. In it Sharon Sargent denied hearing the plans of the three men who had allegedly planned to kill Mike. Stern said Sargent had asked the state to order Shuman to have no contact with her. She said she was afraid of Cpl. Barry Shuman and told Stern that Shuman “had been leading and suggestive in his line of questioning regarding the murder investigation,” the article said.
     Four days after the meeting between Sharon and Stern, the attorney took the transcript of the conversation to Justice Donald Alexander and assistant Attorney General Thomas Goodwin. “Sharon Sargent’s recanting of her original testimony presented major problems for the prosecution,” the article stated.
     Alexander subsequently ordered the impoundment of the information during the hearing on February 22nd. Shuman was removed from his duties on the case following the hearing, Stern said, but found himself back on it after Sgt. Ralph Pinkham took a supervisory role in the investigation.  Shuman denied doing anything wrong.
     The article reported that I had become increasingly frustrated by the way the state had handled the case and that I was amazed by the state’s refusal to subpoena an ex-girlfriend of the deceased.
      As I read the article I had no idea what it meant. Since Shuman hung up on me the last time I called him, I was apprehensive about calling him to ask what it meant. Instead, I called Higgins and asked him what was happening. He said the charges against the three men were going to be dismissed because the police had fed Sharon Sargent the story she told the grand jury. I was shocked. I strongly believed Sharon Sargent’s story because she was saying that Mike lost his life as a result of Percy Sargent’s drug arrest in the DEA undercover drug sting. Higgins asked me if I had ever considered the possibility that the police killed Mike. I said I had thought about it (I had already accused a Maine DEA agent of killing Mike) but found it hard to believe that the police were actually responsible for Mike’s murder. He replied, “How about an overzealous cop from another area?” I did later learn that one of the DEA agents on the February 17–18, 1981 drug sting—the night Mike was murdered—was from New York.   
      A copy of the  transcribed meeting  Sharon Sargent had in Marshal Stern's office in 1985 was in Richard Sargent's documents.  During the meeting, Sharon Sargent denied hearing the plans of the three men who had allegedly planned to kill Mike.  She said the pieces to the murder trial that I didn't know were given to me, you know, pictures with names on the back." She also said she was taken out of her apartment at 2:30 am in the morning. She said she was told that "I could be charged with accessory to murder which they told me was 15 years in prison." She also claimed Shuman said "you know you only have two kids left, you don't want to lose them."  She said Shuman used to call her every day,  do you know this, do you know that' tell is this, tell us that. "     
      During the meeting Sharon was asked what she knew about Paul Pollard and she said "The other night, as far as I understand it, he's in either Massachusetts or New Hampshire, because Barry Shuman left the state for two days last week, didn't tell me where he was going...refused to tell me...Carl [Andrews. Penobscot County Sheriff] told me...he was talking to me on the phone and he said, 'Barry Shuman just went looking for Paul Pollard...him and another guy' and I said to Barry, Did you find Paul Pollard, because I want to know' and he said 'yes, but you can't tell anybody, because he's being state protected.'"     
      She was asked "Alright, but you don't know what he is going to testify to?" Sharon said,  "Barry Shuman says to everything that I say."
     At the time of the meeting in Stern's office. Shuman had already traveled 300 miles to Massachusetts to visit Paul Pollard  (the man AAG Thomas Goodwin told me heard nothing and saw nothing and was seen fleeing the arson-murder scene wiping his hands) to get information from Pollard to bolster his arson-murder case when Sharon Sargent would no longer cooperate. 
     In Richard's documents there was also a 6 page statement Pollard gave Shuman on the 12th of February 1985 at the  Worcester, Massachusetts police department. Mary Jane Cavanaugh, a police officer at the police department, witnessed and  typed up the statement.  I spoke with Cavanaugh and she told me that Shuman stood over her dictating while she typed up the statement. MSP Cpl. Ronald Graves who had accompanied Shuman to Massachusetts also witnessed the statement.     
     The information in Pollard's statement was serious. It said that he and Lionel Cormier visited the murder scene while Mike's body was still lying under the pile of burned rubble. He said they kicked around in the rubble trying to uncover Mike's body and they wondered why the cops hadn't found his body yet.  But there was something that was not true. And Shuman knew it was not true. Richard Sargent was named as the person who was with Pollard and Cormier when they visited the murder scene.  Percy Sargent is the one who was with Cormier and Pollard. But Shuman didn't want Percy Sargent.   
     Apparently, Shuman couldn't use
Pollard as a witness against Richard Sargent for Mike's murder because he threw Mike's murder aside and went after a November 27, 1980 armed robbery that involved Richard Sargent, his brother Percy Sargent, Pollard, and his half-brother Lionel Cormier.  Another armed robbery on the same victim was carried out by Pollard, Cormier and a friend of Pollard's on March 26, 1981, a little over one month after Pollard, Cormier and Percy Sargent killed Mike.

June
June of 1985, three months after Higgins March article he ran another article on the case with the heading "State Moves to dismiss Cochran Murder Indictments."  When I read Goodwin’s statement that he didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute the case against the three men for Mike’s murder I knew it was all over—stone cold. Goodwin told the news in December of 1984; the day the three men were arrested, that they had developed information from a number of sources, not just one source. I now knew Goodwin had given a false statement to the news. There had never been other sources. The only source Goodwin had was Sharon Sargent, a petty thief, drug user, and a police informant who was on her way to jail when Shuman and Pinkham interviewed her on July 24, 1984.
      The weekend of June 14-15, another article by Higgins said 3 charged in Cochran's death were freed. "Three Maine men ... experienced freedom for the first time in seven months [December to June is six months] Friday after the state dismissed murder charges against them Thursday. Forced to dismiss its indictments because of insufficient evidence, Assistant Attorney General Thomas Goodwin declared Friday that he would never ‘give up’ on the case. I was devastated.  Goodwin made this statement to the news 36 years ago and I never heard from him again.
 
1986