NC court denies new trial for convicted serial killer
Posted March 7, 2012 12:36 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2012 1:05 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied a new trial for a Raleigh man serving life in prison for the shooting deaths of five men.
Samuel James Cooper, 35, was convicted April 6, 2010, on five counts of first-degree murder in the shootings, which happened in Wake County in 2006 and 2007.
He admitted to the crimes in 2007 after an unrelated bank robbery in which the gun he used was linked to ballistic evidence found at some of the murder scenes.
The three-judge appeals panel wrote in its opinion that it unanimously disagreed with Cooper's attorneys that the court erred when it allowed jurors to hear his confession to the crimes.
Appellate attorneys argued that Cooper was coerced into confessing and that his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent was violated.
They also argued that Superior Court Judge Henry Hight failed to properly instruct the jury in determining whether Cooper acted deliberately, one of the required findings for a first-degree murder conviction.
Defense attorneys claimed that Cooper did not have the capacity to weigh the consequences of his actions because he was in a delusional state at the time of the shootings.
Prosecutors, however, said he knew what he was doing and went to great lengths to hide evidence that could link him to the crimes.