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Capital murder trial could take several months

Posted July 10, 2008
Updated July 11, 2008

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— The capital murder trial for a convicted felon accused in five slayings will be time-consuming, will probably take several months and isn't scheduled to begin until after the second half of next year, Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens said Thursday.

The state has turned over 22,000 pages of information to the defense and has five more boxes to copy and deliver, prosecutors said during a status hearing in the case against Samuel James Cooper.

Cooper, 31, was arrested and charged in November with five counts of murder in connection with five unsolved homicides dating to May 2006.

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, 2007, death of Timothy David Barnwell, 34; the Oct. 12 death of Ricky High, 48; and the Oct. 14 death of Tariq Hussain, 52.

Authorities believe robbery was the motive in each case.

Stephens on Thursday also scheduled pre-trial motions for July 13, 2009 and set the trial date for September 2009, saying the date won't be moved.

"This case takes priority," Stephens said.

Wake County prosecutors said they anticipate the defense to make motions to suppress statements Cooper made to police. Sources told WRAL News in November that Cooper confessed to committing the crimes.

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

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

11 Comments

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  • Dr. Dataclerk Jul 11, 2008

    I'm sure tax payers are excited to know their hard earned tax dollars will keep this creep in free health care when they may not have it for themselves. And let's not forget free bed and food too.

    Great, I feel better already knowing he will never see this outside world again. Not even getting to walk the streets. Lock-em up and throw away the keys. Don't mind my taxes going in that direction. The government will get it anyway. You have no say in the matter. So pay your taxes when do. If you work,they automatically take it out. Be blessed and thankful you have a job and can walk the streets freely. :)

  • Dr. Dataclerk Jul 11, 2008

    I wish the death penalty was carried out in the worst way that the killer killed a victim. It would make a few of them think before they act.

    Do you actually think this will stop crime and the killings? Honey, what planet are you from. Get in the real world. Life in Prison is better. With the death penalty, they will sit on death roll for many, many years. They have right and will use them. What will the death penalty solve? Nothing really. Plus, if you watch and LISTENED to the news, the Death Penalty is on hold and may wind up never being used. Check it our for yourself.

  • ConcernedNCC Jul 11, 2008

    I wish the death penalty was carried out in the worst way that the killer killed a victim. It would make a few of them think before they act.
    On another note...22,000 pages? How in the world can evidence build up that much about any crime? That's more pages than in an encyclopedia set.

  • enoughsenough Jul 10, 2008

    I'm sure tax payers are excited to know their hard earned tax dollars will keep this creep in free health care when they may not have it for themselves. And let's not forget free bed and food too.

  • Brindy Jul 10, 2008

    What is the point of a trial? More wasted tax dollars! Then when he is convicted and sits on death row for 12 YEARS, who do you think is paying for his 3 squares a day, medical expenses, etc? This justice system is a joke. Death immediately upon conviction?? How about death immediately upon confession! He has confessed...let's be done with him and save oursleves time, money, and aggrevation!

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Jul 10, 2008

    Why must everything be turned into a right or left isssue. It's useless. Grow up.

  • ifcdirector Jul 10, 2008

    Because he killed such a high number of people there will be an exponentially higher number of liberals lighting candles for him on the night of his execution too.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 10, 2008

    Death immediately upon conviction

  • Meandmytwo Jul 10, 2008

    Hope he get all that he deserve and that is the death penalty or the rest of his natural life in prison.

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Jul 10, 2008

    Why is this news? It's common sense.

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