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Jury recommends life for Fred Cooper (Update)

(Scroll down for update)

About 2:30 p.m. today a jury recommended sparing the life of Fred Cooper and sentencing him to life without parole.

Lee County Judge Thomas S. Reese makes the finale decision but he will likely follow the recommendation of the jury when he sentenced Cooper on March 16th.

Cooper, 30, convicted of killing Steven and Michelle Andrews, both 28, showed little reaction to the news, despite an emotional day that at times brought him to tears.

cooperverdict12Fred Cooper guilty of the murders of Steven and Michelle Andrews in their Gateway home in December of 2006.  Today the jury recommended a life sentence.  He will be sentenced on March 16th.

See Orlando Sentinel.

UPDATE: On March 16th:  Convicted murderer Fred Cooper will spend the rest of his life behind prison bars, a Lee Circuit judge ordered Monday.

“It is the intention of this court that you never again be able to look at the light of day except through steel bars and barbed wire,” Judge Thomas S. Reese told Cooper.

Cooper showed little emotion as the sentence was delivered. He stood before the bench, handcuffed and clad in an orange jail jumpsuit. He stared directly ahead. Four deputies surrounded him and his attorneys.

Posted:   03.05.09  Updated:  03.29.09

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Fred Cooper guilty on all charges

A few minutes after 8:00 p.m., after about six hours of deliberations, the jury has found Fred Cooper guilty of all counts.

Count 1 — Guilty as charged of first degree murder of Steven Andrews with a firearm.

Count 2 — Guilty as charged of first degree murder of Michelle Andrews with firearm.**

Count 3 — Guilty as charged of first degree armed burglary.

His first trial had ended in a mistrial after four days of deliberations.

Cooper closed his eyes as the verdict was read. Other than that, he showed little reaction to the verdict and didn’t seem to look at his family. A few jurors looked in his direction.

He was fingerprinted at the defense table before being escorted away.

Cooper could face the death penalty.

The penalty phase is set for Thursday at 8:45 a.m.

The jury will recommend either life imprisonment or the death penalty. The judge will make the final decision.

Synopsis: Fred Cooper was on trial for two counts of first-degree murder in the December 2005 deaths of a Gateway couple. Police received a 911 call the morning of Dec. 27, 2005, and the discovery of a toddler, Lucasz Andrews, alone in a home in Gateway in south Lee County with the bodies of his parents. Steven Andrews, 28, had been shot in the head. Michelle Andrews, 28, had been beaten and suffocated.

Jurors heard final arguments in the case on Tuesday, October 14. The judge was forced to call the case a mistrial Friday, October 17 after the jury couldn’t decide Cooper’s fate. The trial has moved to Pinellas County and will begin Feb. 17, 2009.

**I thought she was beaten and strangled, so the firearm may be an error.

Posted: 03.03.09

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Fred Cooper trial II to resume Monday

Testimony ended for the week about 6:00 p. m. today.

fredcooper

The DNA evidence was introduced.  In my opinion, the DNA was confusing and does not nail Cooper.

Analysts compared the samples against DNA standards for the four major players in Cooper’s case: Cooper himself, Steven Andrews, Michelle Andrews and Kellie Ballew.

The Andrewses were found dead in the bedroom of their Gateway home on Dec. 27, 2005. Prosecutors say Cooper killed them out of jealousy over an affair between Ballew, his longtime girlfriend, and Steven Andrews.

Both samples showed mixed profiles, DNA analyst Julie Heinig said. That is, each showed characteristics not only of Cooper’s DNA, but Steven Andrews’.

Outside the presence of the jury, Barbara Andrews, Steven’s mother, gave some testimony that could have been more damaging to Cooper than any DNA.

It was after January 11, when Cooper was arrested. Barbara and Russell Andrews came back down to Fort Myers to take care of some of their son’s business and estate matters.

The couple spent a day at the ocean with Lukasz, after which they returned to the hotel.

As he was running around their hotel room, he caught sight of a newspaper hanging off a table. Fred Cooper’s picture was on the front page, she said.

He stopped “dead in his tracks” and stared at it, she said.

She took him outside to get a snack. On the way out, she told her husband to put the newspaper away.

“He looked frightened to me,” she said.

Considering that Lukasz was in the house during the murders of his mother and father, this would not have been good for Fred.  Defense attorney objected to admitting this testimony and the judge agrees and says it can’t come in.  Hope the jurors don’t read the papers this weekend.

Trial will resume at 8:45 a.m. on Monday.

See Naples News.

Posted:  02.27.09

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