Local News

Suspected killer's confession will stand

Posted December 17, 2009 12:21 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2009 1:24 p.m. EST

— A Superior Court judge on Thursday denied a motion to suppress the confession of a convicted felon accused of killing five people in a string of robberies.

Attorneys for Samuel James Cooper filed the request earlier this year, saying their client was coerced into admitting to the crimes.

Authorities charged Cooper in the shooting deaths of LeRoy Jernigan, 41, Ossama "Sam" Haj-Hussein, 43; Timothy David Barnwell, 34; Ricky High, 48; and Tariq Hussain, 52. The slayings occurred between May 2006 and November 2007, when Cooper was arrested on a bank robbery charge.

After Cooper’s arrest, investigators found a 9 mm handgun that the State Bureau of Investigation linked to the slayings.

During a hearing last month on the motion to suppress, a Raleigh police detective testified that Cooper confessed after prosecutors agreed to dismiss a charge against his father, who had been arrested on a charge of possession of a stolen firearm by a felon.

Cooper will go to trial on five counts of first-degree murder Feb. 1, Judge Henry Hight ruled Thursday.

The case was expected to go to trial earlier this year, but both the defense and prosecutors have continually asked for the date to be moved because of the massive amount of evidence to be reviewed.