ALAMOSA — It was not so much his actions surrounding the death of Dale Floyd McBride last summer but his actions while he was released on bond awaiting sentencing this fall that earned Devin Cooper, 20, a 12-year prison sentence on Thursday.
While out on bond on September 8 Cooper and two other individuals were involved in a robbery. They entered the victim’s home, and while Cooper held a gun to the victim’s head, the other two took items from around the house, Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig told the judge during the sentencing hearing on Thursday. Cooper pleaded to conspiracy to commit aggravated robbery for that incident, and the attorneys stipulated to an eight-year prison sentence.
For his part in the 2016 McBride murder (his father admitted to the fatal shooting of McBride) Cooper pleaded guilty to felony accessory to a crime. His role was minimal, basically driving McBride (who may have been dead at the time) away from the scene and helping to bury and re-bury his body afterwards to hide the crime.
McCuaig said because of Cooper’s minimal involvement, slight criminal record and because the involvement he did have was significantly influenced by his father Lonnie, he was given a shot at long-term probation.
That was a mistake, McCuaig said, because when Devin Cooper was released on bond, he participated in a robbery in which he held a gun to the victim’s head and bragged to the victim that his family had just gotten away with murder so he could do it again if the victim did not cooperate.
McCuaig stipulated to the eight years on the robbery charge and asked for a 12-year prison sentence on the accessory charge, to be served consecutively.
Devin Cooper’s attorney Guillermo Garibay agreed that Devin Cooper’s involvement in the McBride case was largely at the influence of his father. He added that Devin Cooper’s actions in the robbery this fall, however, were because of “stupidness.”
“That’s not the sins of his father. That’s his mistake, but the court should look at it separately,” Garibay said.
He added that Devin Cooper had no criminal history until recently, and his problems began when he moved in with his father, who was a drug dealer and a violent man. If he did not do what his father told him to, he was physically assaulted, Garibay explained. Fear seemed to be a common thread with all the codefendants in the McBride case, he added.
He asked for the stipulated sentence on the robbery and four years concurrent on the accessory charge.
District Judge Michael Gonzales told Devin Cooper that with the plea he entered in the McBride case he had an opportunity to be on probation and the opportunity to have a life. While on bond he repeatedly tested positive for meth, and even with that problem with substance abuse, the judge might have tried to work with him, he said. Gonzales said the outlook changed dramatically for Cooper, however, when he committed the armed robbery, perhaps when he was on drugs.
“You had every chance to make choices and be yourself, be known as Devin Cooper, not Devin Cooper, Lonnie Cooper’s son,” Gonzales told him. “You didn’t have to be Devin Cooper, Lonnie Cooper’s son. You can choose to be Devin Cooper, and that Devin Cooper can be whoever you want to be.”
The judge encouraged him that it was not too late to make something of himself.
The judge added that Devin’s actions in September were not the result of his father but of his own choice, and they were not just a mistake but a nightmarish choice to hold a gun to somebody’s head.
“It seems to me that you just don’t really care,” the judge told him.
The judge sentenced Devin Cooper to eight years in the Department of Corrections on the robbery case and 12 years on the McBride case to be served concurrently.