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Psychiatrist: Cooper chose to shoot and kill

Posted April 8, 2010
Updated April 9, 2010

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— A Raleigh man facing the death penalty for five shooting deaths was capable of making the decisions to pull the trigger, a forensic psychiatrist testified Thursday.

"These were choices that he made," Dr. Nicole Wolfe said of the crimes of which Samuel James Cooper was convicted this week.

Defense attorneys have argued that Cooper, 33, suffers from dissociation and post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from years of abuse at the hands of his father.

He was in a delusional state and did not understand the consequences of his actions at the time of the crimes, they have said.

Jurors found Cooper guilty Tuesday of five counts of first-degree murder in the 2006 and 2007 slayings of Ossama Haj-Hussein, LeRoy Jernigan, Timothy Barnwell, Ricky High and Tariq Hussain.

During the sentencing phase of Cooper's capital murder trial, his attorneys must now try to convince a jury that he should be sentenced to a life prison sentence and not death.

Wolfe disputed the defense's diagnoses of Cooper but said he does suffer from antisocial personality disorder and narcissism. (Read Wolfe's report on Cooper's mental state.)

Neither though, would have contributed to the killings.

"You can also have a disorder and it has nothing to do with the crime that you commit, but when the crime is as a result of a mental disorder, there's usually some evidence of it in the crime," Wolfe said. "There really wasn't anything here but very well-organized behavior."

Defense attorneys will question Wolfe during cross-examination Friday.

Jurors are also expected to hear from some of the murder victims' family members before the state rests its case.


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  • Weetie Apr 9, 2010

    Abuse is an excuse...Many of us got "beatings" when we were kids...It taught us not to do stupid things like Cooper has done. I say, "Fry 'em quickly!"

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Apr 9, 2010

    Its all just a formality now. This scum WILL be sitting on Death Row shortly.

    NOW.... can we get some governemnt officials, with some cahunas, to step up to the plate? We effectively DON'T HAVE A DEATH PENALTY! Can SOMEONE step up to the plate and get it REINSTATED!!!!!

  • Its My Prerogative Apr 9, 2010

    @ driverkid3
    Well said and I too am GLAD you rose above the abuse and became a productive citizen!!!!

  • ccsloop Apr 9, 2010

    "Too many people think abuse gives them the right to do anything they want. "

    I don't know if they think that or it is just a numbness and insensitivity that has been beaten into them. Basically it is that there was not a moral compass in their lives to counteract the abuse.

    I am soory for your abuse and happy that you rose above it.

  • driverkid3 Apr 8, 2010

    Thank goodness someone has enough sense to tell it like it is. I was abused growing up, physically and mentally, but I would rather junp off a cliff than hurt anyone deliberately. Too many people think abuse gives them the right to do anything they want. Guess what? IT DOESN'T!