A Wake County jury found Samuel James Cooper guilty yesterday, convicting him of five counts of first-degree murder. Opening arguments will take place this morning in the sentencing phase, where jurors will decide whether Cooper should be executed or sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A Wake County jury will continue its deliberations today in the trial of Samuel James Cooper. Cooper has admitted responsibility for a string of crimes in 2006 and 2007. The question before the jury is whether Cooper is guilty of first or second-degree murder. Prosecutors portray Cooper as a deliberate and cold-blooded killer, while the defense asserts that his crimes were the result of mental illness caused by years of abuse. If Cooper is found guilty of second-degree murder, the sum of years to which he would be sentenced would most likely amount to life behind bars. If he is found guilty of first-degree murder, the trial will proceed to a sentencing phase at which the jury will choose between life without parole and the death penalty.
The prosecution rested this morning in the Wake County death penalty trial of Samuel James Cooper. The defense does not contest that Cooper committed the shootings for which he is on trial. The question at this stage is whether years of extreme abuse left Cooper too mentally damaged to form the clear, cold intent to kill that a conviction of first-degree murder requires. If the jury finds that Cooper’s capacity to control his behavior was diminished, they would find him guilty of second-degree murder rather than first-degree murder.
Cooper’s mother testified that the abuse began when he was as young as 3 or 4 months old, when Cooper’s father shook the infant and threw him across a room.
In Wake County, testimony begins today in the trial of Samuel James Cooper. If convicted, Cooper could face the death penalty for a string of robberies and homicides occurring in 2006 and 2007.
In Wake County, jury selection has begun in the trial of Samuel James Cooper. Jury selection is expected to take at least a month because Cooper is charged with five murders. He could face the death penalty if convicted.