ALAMOSA — Lonnie Cooper, 43, pleaded to second-degree murder and crime of violence on Wednesday in connection with the June 2016 death of Floyd Dale McBride, 52.
District Judge Michael Gonzales accepted Cooper’s guilty pleas on Wednesday and scheduled sentencing for October 25. Cooper could be sentenced to as much as 80 years in prison.
Members of McBride’s family were on the phone listening to the plea hearing on Wednesday, and Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge that “while they have certainly expressed they will never be made whole … they are comfortable and in agreement with this disposition.”
He said he had spoken multiple times with the family.
McCuaig said the prosecution believed the plea was in the best interest of justice because it gave the victim’s family closure in an expedited fashion and held Cooper accountable for his actions.
As part of Cooper’s plea agreement, 37 other charges including kidnapping and assault were dismissed in the case related to McBride’s death, and plea offers will be made to three other members of Cooper’s family who were charged in connection with the McBride case.
When Judge Gonzales asked Cooper if the plea agreements for his family were part of the reason he was entering his plea, Cooper replied, “That’s the only reason.”
Judge Gonzales advised Cooper that if his family members’ pleas somehow fell through, he would have the opportunity to revisit his guilty plea, since it was made on the condition that his family members would be offered favorable pleas.
As part of Lonnie Cooper’s plea agreement, the case against his wife Shannon would be dismissed in its entirety. McCuaig said the evidence against her was the weakest.
Son Devin Cooper will be offered a felony accessory charge with the prosecution agreeing to request 4-5 years probation but an aggravated sentence if he violates probation. McCuaig said the defense could argue that Devin Cooper acted at the behest of his father.
Son Brian Cooper will be offered a charge of tampering with physical evidence. At the time of McBride’s murder Brian Cooper was suffering from a knife injury inflicted by McBride and that presumably led Brian’s father to take retaliatory action in shooting McBride, who subsequently bled to death.
All parties involved in the plea agreement hope to conduct the sentencings for all of the Cooper family members at or near the same time.
In addition to the murder case, Lonnie Cooper pleaded guilty on Wednesday to possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance (more than 112 grams of meth) in connection with an unrelated drug case dating to Sept. 29, 2015, when law enforcement found drugs hidden in a stove at the Cooper residence. Cooper could be sentenced from 8-32 years on that case.