Judge accepts plea from shooter's wife

ALAMOSA — As long as her husband sticks to his end of the bargain, Shannon Cooper, 35, will not be prosecuted any further for her involvement in the June 2016 death of Floyd Dale McBride, 52.

Shannon’s husband Lonnie Cooper, 43, has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, admitting to fatally shooting McBride last summer, in exchange for beneficial plea considerations for the other members of his family who were charged in the McBride case.

Lonnie’s son Devin Cooper, 19, pleaded guilty on Monday to the part he played in the McBride murder, and son Brian Cooper, 24, appeared in court on Wednesday. His attorneys said they are working on a disposition in multiple cases against him, including conspiracy charges related to McBride’s death.

Shannon Cooper pleaded guilty on Wednesday to a count of introducing contraband in the jail in a 2017 case unrelated to the 2016 McBride case in which she had been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping. Other charges and cases, ranging from traffic to drugs, were dismissed as part of her agreement.

However, probation in a 2014 felony drug case was revoked, and between that case and the contraband case Shannon Cooper could be sentenced to up to 13 years in prison. District Judge Michael Gonzales scheduled sentencing for September 20, which is before Lonnie Cooper’s October 24th sentencing. Judge Gonzales told Shannon Cooper he was not saying he would sentence her to the maximum 13 years in prison but wanted her to understand that was the maximum she could receive.

Stating he believed it was not in Cooper’s best interests to be released at this point, the judge denied a request for reduced bond until then. Bond is set at $50,000 in the probation violation case and $20,000 in the contraband case.

Shannon Cooper’s attorney David Lipka said if released, Shannon could stay with her mother and be placed on pretrial supervision.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley McCuaig opposed bond reduction and said after Shannon Cooper was released on bond in the 2016 case related to the McBride death she picked up multiple new cases including the contraband case to which she pled on Wednesday, so he did not think it would be a good idea to let her out at this point.

The judge agreed.

Shannon Cooper, who remains in custody, was in tears during the plea hearing on Wednesday afternoon as Lipka laid out the resolution of her cases. Lipka told the judge that the charge to which Shannon Cooper would plead guilty was an introduction of contraband charge dating to an incident on February 28 when Cooper did or tried to bring heroin and marijuana into the county jail. She would normally face a 2-6-year prison sentence on that charge but could be sentenced to prison or community corrections for up to 12 years since there were aggravating circumstances, namely that she had been on probation on a felony drug case when these other cases arose. (She could be sentenced to a year on top of the maximum 12-year sentence as a result of her probation being revoked in the 2014 drug case.) She could be sentenced to the Department of Corrections, community corrections or probation.

McCuaig explained to the judge why the DA’s office was willing to dismiss the 2016 conspiracy case against Shannon Cooper. McCuaig said that Shannon Cooper’s involvement in the McBride death was minimal. She was present at the hospital with other family members including Lonnie Cooper earlier that morning after Brian Cooper had been stabbed by McBride, and she then went back to the Cooper property. After Theodora Travers was brought to the Cooper property because she could identify the person who stabbed Brian Cooper (namely McBride), Shannon Cooper participated in a strip search of Travers who then left with Lonnie Cooper to search for McBride. At that point Shannon Cooper remained at the Cooper residence until she left for work and had no further involvement in the McBride incident, McCuaig told the judge.

“Given her limited role and the influence Mr. Lonnie Cooper had over her at the time, we feel this is a just disposition,” McCuaig said.

McCuaig added that in Shannon Cooper’s drug case, he believed Lonnie Cooper was also the mastermind behind that, and Lonnie Cooper has taken responsibility for that.

McCuaig said while McBride’s family is not happy with the outcome of Shannon Cooper’s case they are accepting it.

“They will never be satisfied because they will never get Dale McBride back,” McCuaig said. “This is probably the case that is the hardest for them.”

He said he thought they understood, however, why Shannon Cooper’s case was resolved the way it was — “Shannon Cooper has less culpability, and they have accepted that.”

Dismissed as part of her plea agreement on Wednesday were two 2017 traffic cases (driving under revocation/restraint and driving under suspension), a 2017 felony drug case, a 2015 drug case and the 2016 case related to the McBride homicide. The district attorney’s office can re-file the McBride-related case if Lonnie Cooper’s case is not satisfactorily resolved, the attorneys and judges pointed out on Wednesday.