Local News

Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty in String of Killings

Posted January 3, 2008

— Wake County prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a convicted felon accused of killing five people in a series of crime sprees dating back to May 2006.

Samuel James Cooper, 30, of Raleigh, was arrested and charged in November with five counts in connection with four Raleigh Police Department unsolved homicides and one Wake County Sheriff's Office homicide case.

Wake County sheriff's investigators say Cooper shot and killed Ossama "Sam" Haj-Hussein, 43, on May 12, 2006.

Raleigh police believe Cooper shot and killed LeRoy Jernigan, 41, of Clayton, less than a month later.

Cooper is also charged in the April 27 death of Timothy David Barnwell, 34; the Oct. 12 death of Ricky High, 48; and the Oct. 14 death of Tariq Hussain, 52.

He is also a suspect in one home invasion in Rockingham County and is charged in connection with another one there.

According to court records, Cooper has a criminal record dating from 1993 in Wake County. It includes 10 arrests, 19 charges, including assault on a police officer, escape from prison, robbery, assault on a female, drug charges and larceny.


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  • Polly Jan 4, 2008

    DrunkSober, once again, you're off base. Violette (the crazy-yes certifiable by the State's experts-man that killed his child) is a totally different beast than Cooper. Cooper may be able to claim a tough life and corporal punishment as a child; however, he is by all accounts a hardened killer. These two cases are apples and oranges.

  • FragmentFour Jan 4, 2008

    Same old, same old. When will we, as a society, attack this problem at its root and not at its many branches? -- TheGraduate

    When there's a profit to be made from the change. Not before.

  • Spooner Jan 4, 2008

    It only took a month to come to this conclusion?????

  • doogaad Jan 4, 2008

    Will he get active time or probation?

  • COPs eye Jan 3, 2008

    What death penalty? We don't have one right now. This guy just like the white guy needs to be executed if found guilty. Not 10 or 20 years from now but within 12 months. Give them an appeal and then carry out the sentence. Why hasn't this guy claimed insanity...is crimes must not have been gruesome enough to qualify.

  • DrunkSober Jan 3, 2008

    I think he should plead insanity,like the other guy.How convenient.

  • Right_N_Exact Jan 3, 2008

    syracuseinwonderland.....it means a black man who committs murder get the death penalty (and rightfully so if guilty) but a white man who decapitates his daughter gets to plead insanity therefore possibly avoiding the death penalty. Crazy or not that white dude deserves death just as much if not more.

  • syracuseinwonderland Jan 3, 2008

    "We all know who gets the insanity defense and who gets the death penalty." newtodurham

    What are you trying to say?

  • twc Jan 3, 2008

    TheGraduate, I believe we need to take a two-pronged approach. We trim the branches while we cultivate the root. Trimming the branches in this case would definitely help the root and thus the tree to become stronger. cooper has no purpose here! He needs to be put to sleep same as you would a rabid dog! There's not much difference! Except that the dog couldn't help it!

  • twc Jan 3, 2008

    newtodurham, there's a difference between being insane and being evil! But in both of these situations I believe the world would be much better off if we euthanized them!