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Both sides rest in Samuel Cooper murder trial

Attorneys will present closing arguments Monday in the trial of a Raleigh man accused of fatally shooting five people.

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Samuel James Cooper
RALEIGH, N.C. — Attorneys will present closing arguments Monday in the trial of a Raleigh man accused of killing five people in a series of shootings spanning more than a year.

On Thursday morning, Raleigh police homicide detective Amanda Salmon took the stand as the last witness for the state, saying Samuel James Cooper told investigators during a Nov. 24, 2007, police interview after his arrest:

"The only thing I got on my side is what my lawyer's going to say in the courtroom. That's all I believe in. I'm dealing with two humans – the DA and my lawyer," Salmon read from a transcript. "Whichever one lies the best – anytime he can be proven wrong in any aspect – it will put that doubt in the juror's mind. I saw O.J. do that. There's a white dude in Raleigh who did that. I can do the same."

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday, because Friday is a court holiday.

Over the past two weeks, witnesses have testified that Cooper, 33, confessed to killing Ossama Haj-Hussein, 43; LeRoy Jernigan, 41; Timothy Barnwell, 34; Ricky High, 48; and Tariq Hussain, 52, over a 17-month period in 2006-2007.

Most of the killings occurred during robberies, police investigators said.

Salmon also testified that Cooper, who agreed to cooperate with police in exchange for his father's release on a weapons charge, never told investigators about a robbery partner.

That individual, identified as Russell Wiggs, was later arrested and charged in several robberies. He was never charged in any of the cases for which Cooper is on trial, Salmon said.

Cooper never testified in the trial.

Defense attorneys do not deny his responsibility for the shootings, but have argued that he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and dissociative disorder as a result of years of abuse by his father.

Those disorders were factors that prompted the shootings, they have argued.

The state has argued that Cooper was deliberate, knew that the crimes were wrong and went to great lengths to hide evidence that could link him to the crimes.

Garner police arrested Cooper in November 2007 following a robbery at a local Bank of America. Ballistics experts linked evidence from the homicides to a gun Cooper dropped while fleeing police following that bank robbery.


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