ALAMOSA — Another member of the Cooper family is now charged with first-degree murder for the 2016 death of Floyd Dale McBride, 52.
Until Monday, Lonnie Cooper, 43, was the only person charged with first-degree murder in connection with the shooting last June that led to McBride’s death. Numerous co-defendants, including three other members of Cooper’s family, had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder and other charges in connection with the June 23, 2016 death of McBride.
One of Cooper’s sons, Devin, 19, was initially charged with about a dozen counts including conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping, manslaughter and tampering with physical evidence.
However, District Judge Michael Gonzales on Monday allowed the district attorney’s office to amend the complaint against Devin Cooper to add first-degree murder charges. The judge said at this stage of the case, with a trial set for this summer, he was reluctant to grant the request, but he acknowledged the district attorney’s right to amend the complaint anytime prior to trial.
“This isn’t just a minor amendment,” the judge said. “This is a significant amendment that raises the stakes.”
The penalty if convicted of this charge could be the death penalty or life in prison, Devin Cooper’s attorney Guillermo Garibay pointed out. Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig said the DA’s office would not seek the death penalty.
Judge Gonzales said while the maximum sentence Devin Cooper was previously facing was 48 years in the Department of Corrections, he could now be facing life in prison if convicted.
The judge said these charges should have been filed earlier and the preliminary hearing on these charges should have been held in county court. Now he will have to work it in at the district court level.
McCuaig told the judge that in reviewing all the charges, it seemed the new charges were more appropriate. He said the DA’s office, which represents the people, has a right and obligation to proceed with the most appropriate charges. The DA’s office was not asking for a change in bond, and there would still be ample time for the defense to prepare for trial, McCuaig added.
He said the information in discovery remains the same, and it was the culmination of all the evidence in this case that led to the added filing.
Garibay objected to the new charges, especially since they were much more serious than the original ones. He asked for time to file additional motions and said he would be filing a motion to continue the trial.
Given the new charges in the case, everyone agreed to continue the motions hearing that was scheduled for Monday. Judge Gonzales said he would prefer to go ahead with it but given the new charges believed it was only fair to give the defense time to get things in order and hold the motions hearing later. Judge Gonzales scheduled the afternoon of July 5 to hear motions and gave Garibay until June 16 to file additional motions, one of which would be a motion to continue the jury trial.
Devin Cooper, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, remains in custody on a $500,000 bond. Other Cooper family members charged in this case, in addition to Lonnie and Devin, are Brian (another of Lonnie Cooper’s sons) and Shannon, Lonnie’s wife. Several other area residents have been charged as well.
Lonnie Cooper is alleged to have shot McBride in retaliation for McBride’s non-fatal stabbing of Brian Cooper. McBride ultimately bled to death following the shooting.
Devin Cooper’s alleged role was helping to plan the retaliatory action, helping to secure and guard individuals who could identify McBride as the one who stabbed Brian Cooper, transporting McBride who may or may not have still been alive at the time and ultimately relocating McBride’s body from its initial burial site to a second one.