Cooper murder trial gets under way

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Was it an act of parental protectiveness or an act of boiling anger that escalated to murder and felonious assault?

A seven-woman, five-man jury was seated Monday to decide that question.

The trial of William Cooper, 48, the Upper Township man charged with shooting and killing Scott Marcum and shooting and seriously injuring Orlan &#8220J.R.” Harper, Jr. is underway this week in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Email newsletter signup

In his opening statement, Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier told the jury that it came down to anger.

&#8220Why would he (Cooper) shoot these young men? That's going to be the case,” Collier said. &#8220It's a case of stupidity and anger and machoism.”

Collier said all the parties involved, with the exception of Harper, socialized frequently and were spending time together July 1, when the string of events that led to the shootings began.

Collier said that on the evening of July 1, William Cooper Jr., known as &#8220Bub,” his wife, the two victims and others were hanging out together in the strip mines near Sisler Hollow.

Bub became intoxicated and combative and began arguing first with his wife and then others.

&#8220It got to the point that he got out of control,” Collier said. &#8220Bub drank too much. He's a mean drunk.”

In spite of the efforts of friends to calm him, Collier said, Bub left the strip mines. He later showed up at the residence of Fred Sisler, where the shootings took place, and scuffled with people there before going to his parents' house.

During the scuffle, Bub reportedly punched one man and someone punched him in the face as well.

Collier told the jury he would present evidence that while William Cooper prevented his son from leaving the Cooper house with a pistol, he himself took a gun and followed his son back to the Sisler residence where Marcum and Harper were shot.

Collier disputed the contention that Cooper shot the two men because they had attacked him and had attacked his son.

&#8220Bub was already out of there by then,” he said.

&#8220Š This was a stupid act by an angry man who possibly perceived he was doing something for his son, his family name. He may have thought they were whooping up on him.”

Defense attorney Rick Faulkner asked Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Walton for the right to offer his opening statement after the prosecution rests its case.

Collier then called Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Michael Gore, who responded to the scene the night of the shootings. Gore testified he first went to the Sisler residence but later went to the Cooper residence along with Ironton police detective Jim Akers.

Gore testified that Cooper met them outside and told the two men, &#8220I'm the one you're looking for.”

Most of Monday was consumed by jury selection. The process of probing the prospective jurors for potential conflicts lasted until 1:30 p.m.

Among them: Under what circumstances is self-defense a permissible plea, their thoughts on drunkenness, whether or not they knew any of those involved and under what circumstances in their opinion, may a parent act in defense of a child.

If convicted, Cooper faces 15 years to life in prison. The trial that was scheduled to take two to three days may continue into Thursday since jury selection took longer than expected.