Local News

Third attorney to represent felon in string of slayings

Posted February 12, 2009 12:06 p.m. EST

— A Superior Court judge has ordered a third attorney to defend a convicted felon accused in five homicides.

During a status hearing Thursday, attorneys for Samuel James Cooper told Judge Donald Stephens they need more help going through more than 59,000 pages of discovery materials.

Otherwise, they would not be able to meet a trial date scheduled for Sept. 14.

Stephens has previously said the capital murder trial will probably take several months and that the date won't be changed.

Cooper, 32, was arrested and charged in November 2007 with five counts of murder in connection with five unsolved homicides dating to May 2006. Investigators believe robbery was a motive in each case.

Wake County prosecutors have said they anticipate the defense to make motions to suppress statements Cooper made to authorities. Sources told WRAL News in November 2007 that Cooper confessed to committing the crimes.

Cooper has a criminal record in Wake County dating to 1993 that includes 10 arrests on 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.