Murder trial vacated, pending plea
ALAMOSA — Pending a guilty plea by his father that would also resolve his case, Devin Cooper agreed to forgo the preliminary hearing scheduled on his case on Wednesday and his trial scheduled to begin July 31.
Cooper, 20, has been charged with first-degree murder and about a dozen other counts including conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping in connection with the June 23, 2016, death of Floyd Dale McBride, 52.
Cooper’s father Lonnie, 43, was also charged with first-degree murder as well as numerous other counts in connection with the homicide. In mid-June Lonnie Cooper’s attorney Tina Tussay told Alamosa County Judge Daniel Walzl that her client would be pleading to second-degree murder as part of an offer that would resolve his case and the cases against three of his family members, including Devin.
(Lonnie Cooper is believed to be the one who fired the shot that led to McBride’s death.)
In district court on Wednesday, Devin Cooper’s attorney Guillermo Garibay (appearing by phone) told District Judge Michael Gonzales that plea negotiations are underway that would involve a plea from Devin Cooper to an accessory charge with probation. That would be contingent on Lonnie Cooper’s guilty plea, Garibay said.
Garibay said in light of the pending plea agreements, he would be asking to vacate the July 31st trial for Devin Cooper in addition to the preliminary hearing that was scheduled on Wednesday.
Garibay said his client wants to accept the plea agreement currently on the table.
Judge Gonzales asked Devin Cooper, who appeared in custody, if he understood the proceedings and if it was his wish to waive his right to a speedy trial. The July 31st trial would have met that speedy trial requirement, and the judge reminded Cooper he had a right to a speedy trial as well as a preliminary hearing.
Devin Cooper told the judge he understood and was willing to waive those rights. The six-month speedy trial requirement would restart now. Judge Gonzales agreed to vacate the July 31st jury trial and Wednesday hearing.
The judge scheduled August 7 for Devin Cooper to enter a plea.
Judge Gonzales also reminded the attorneys involved that he is not inclined to accept stipulated plea agreements.
“Everybody needs to be crystal clear if there’s a case where a plea is taking place that’s going to bind the court’s hands, I am reluctant to do that,” Judge Gonzales said. “Everyone be clear, given the nature of this particular case, I am going to be reluctant to just blindly accept stipulations.”
Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig said all the parties were aware of that, and they planned to define their proposal before presenting it officially to the court.