Cooper gets 18 years to life for murder, assault

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

Calling it a senseless loss of life, Lawrence County Common Pleas Court Judge Frank McCown sentenced William D. Cooper Sr. to a total of 18 years to life in prison for the murder of Scott Marcum and the shooting of Orlan “J.R.” Harper Jr.

Cooper received the state’s mandatory 15 years to life sentence for the murder conviction but that came with a three-year mandatory additional sentence, or firearm charge, since a gun was used in the crime.

Cooper received a seven-year sentence for the felonious assault conviction and with it came a three-year gun charge.

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The sentences for the assault and the murder can be served concurrently but the gun specifications, which can run concurrently with each other, must be served after and in addition to the other prison time.

“When we attempt to take things into our own hands, things like this happen,” McCown said just before he imposed his sentence.

Lawrence County Prosecutor J.B. Collier requested that Cooper receive a “high end” sentence, arguing that the nature of the crimes required severe punishment.

“It was a needless act with tragic consequences,” he said after the sentencing.

But Cooper’ attorney, Rick Faulkner, argued that while the circumstances were tragic, his client did what he did because he thought his son and his own life were in danger.

Faulkner has filed a motion requesting a new trial. McCown, who said he had received the motion earlier in the day, said he would study the matter and rule on it within a week.

Faulkner said after the sentencing that a new trial is warranted in light of information from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation that had not been made available to him until the time of the trial.

“Information about the blood spots, information the prosecution had that was favorable to the defense that we didn’t get until right before the trial or in the trial, blood work and ballistics information,” Faulkner said. He said he anticipated an appeal would be filed in the case if McCown does not grant his motion for a new trial.

Paul Marcum and Judy Anson, parents of murder victim Scott Marcum, addressed the court just before Cooper was sentenced.Marcum was to-the-point.

“There was no call whatsoever for what you did,” he told Cooper. “When you get to your new home, I hope every night when you lay down and close your eyes I hope you see Scott’s face. I hope I never see you again.”

Anson’s speech, addressed in turns to Cooper, Faulkner and McCown was punctuated by tears.

There was, she said, no greater loss for a parent than that of a child, and the loss of her son has been painful. She described the agony of first not knowing where he son was the night of the shooting and then going to the hospital, seeing the faces of the deputies and doctors and nurses and being told her son was dead.

“He was my baby boy. Nine months I carried him, 36 hours of labor, hard labor, and they didn’t think either of us would make it. Thirty-five years of love and caring and you took it away in two seconds,” she said to Cooper. “Look what you’ve done to Margie (Cooper’s wife) and your dad. This has all been a nightmare.”

Anson also read a letter from one of Marcum’s children describing her own torment with her father’s death.

Turning her attention to Faulkner, Anson took issue with Faulkner’s assertion during his closing argument that her son was in part to blame for his own death. Faulkner had said “The fool went and got himself shot.”

To the judge, she said it was up to him to hand out a punishment that fit the crime.

When McCown asked Cooper if he had anything to say before being sentenced, he said he was sorry and that the shootings should never have happened.

A seven-woman, five-man jury took approximately two hours last week to return a guilty-on-all-counts conviction against Cooper. He is accused of going to a neighbor’s house in July and shooting and killing Marcum and shooting and seriously injuring Harper. In his defense, Cooper said he thought his son, William “Bub” Cooper and he himself was in danger that night and that Marcum or the homeowner, Fred Sisler, had a gun.

In his remarks, McCown cautioned those involved to not exacerbate an already difficult situation among neighbors by seeking to settle scores or take revenge in the case.

“I hope it ends here,” McCown told a standing-room-only courtroom. “There is no cause for further retribution, it would only make things worse.”