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02/19/2016

Cooper being held without bond
Cooper being held without bond
  • Accused murderer returned to Hamilton; sheriff wants to move him, in time, to another facility
 
cooper.png
Jimmy Cooper
 
Article contributed by The Journal Record
 
By ED HOWELL
Staff Writer
 
HAMILTON  - Jimmy Cooper of Hamilton was brought back to the Marion County Jail in Hamilton on Friday, Feb. 12, where officials said he was formally arrested and where he was told he would be held without bond following the murder of two people last week in downtown Hamilton. 
 
Cooper, 57, was brought in an Alabama State Trooper vehicle to the jail on Friday afternoon, Feb. 12, from UAB Hospital to face two capital murder charges in the Wednesday, Feb. 10, shooting deaths of Donnie Miller, 67, and Hamilton accountant Linda Cole, 61. He also faces one count of first-degree kidnapping for holding Hamilton attorney Scott Hunt at gunpoint that day in his law office. 
 
The return of Cooper to the county capped a day where county officials met to discuss courthouse security in the wake of the murders, which started at Hunt’s law office with the shooting death of Miller and then continued with Cooper allegedly also shooting Cole in her office at Lawler & Cole, CPAs, PC. 
 
He was apprehended outside First State Bank of the South, which is located adjacent to the Lawler & Cole officer, after shots were fired at him, both from law officers and a citizen. He was wounded and then apprehended, and then taken for medical treatment. 
 
He was under guard by Alabama Law Enforcement Agency officers at UAB Hospital in Birmingham before being returned to the county Friday. Cooper arrived earlier than expected at the jail and was not seen entering the facility. 
 
Very quickly after Cooper’s arrival, Circuit Judge Lee Carter presided at a 72-hour hearing in a small interview room in the jail with a court reporter and small number of people. No cameras nor tape recorders were allowed by Carter to be used at the hearing. 
 
Carter, seated directly across from Cooper at a simple desk, told Cooper that due to the capital charges, he would be held without bond.
 
Cooper appears calm at hearing
 
At the hearing, Cooper sat calmly in what appeared to be a blue prison suit, with no shoes. He looked at Carter during the discussions and acknowledged what was being said, clarifying at one point the kidnapping charge with Carter. He appeared interested in the proceedings without showing any emotions. 
 
Cooper also asked about his medication, noting he still had “two or three” bullets inside him.
He had a small bandage on his right hand and a bandage around his lower left arm. Offered a chance to see some paperwork, Cooper noted he did not have his glasses to be able to read the paperwork.
 
At one point, he said, “I’m worried about the safety of my children at this time,” adding he was worried people would want to kill them. Carter later said if he was concerned for their safety, he could take it up with the sheriff (Marion County Sheriff Kevin Williams) later. 
 
When the hearing ended later, a jail official pulled the back of the swivel chair, which rolled the still-seated Cooper backward out of the small room. 
 
Lee told Cooper the purpose of the hearing was not to determine guilt nor innocence but to ensure Cooper understood the charges against him. 
 
Judge to appoint attorney for Cooper
 
He told Cooper he would arrange an attorney for Cooper, as the prisoner said he could not afford an attorney.
 
“I don’t have a job and I don’t have the money,” Cooper said. 
 
Noting he understood the charges, Cooper said he would want to discuss with an attorney about whether or not to waive a preliminary hearing. Carter said he had 30 days to decide.
After the hearing, Marion County District Attorney Jack Bostick, who was present for the hearing, noted that even if the charges were dismissed in a preliminary hearing, he would take the case before a grand jury in anyway.  
 
A state form Carter produced later showed that the judge, at a preliminary hearing, determines if there is sufficient evidence. If not, the judge can dismiss the charge “subject to the right of the prosecution to reinstate the charges against you at a later time.” 
However, Bostick indicated he is confident that enough sufficient evidence is available against Cooper. 
 
At another point, Cooper questioned if his rights were read to him when he was arrested. “I don’t even think he arrested me,” he said.
 
Bostick said that the arrest formally took place not at the hospital but had just taken place minutes earlier at the jail when he was booked. 
 
Carter essentially informed Cooper of the charges and read well-known parts of the Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent, the parts about him having the right to an attorney and that one may be assigned if he could not afford one. 
 
Immediately after the hearing, Carter produced an underlined copy of a state Order On Initial Appearance document to show the guidelines of what was to be reviewed at the hearing.  
 
Medical condition released for Cooper
 
After the hearing, Williams said it was not unusual to have initial bond hearings at the jail, noting it was done often. The reason Cooper’s hearing was at the jail was because of his medical condition. 
 
“I asked for it to be done at the jail” for that reason, he said, although he said Cooper can walk with the use of a walker. 
 
Williams said at UAB, bullets were removed from one leg and one hip. Williams said he was shot in the groin area and surgery was held at UAB to remove his testicles as a result. 
Cooper is in stable condition and still has a fractured pelvis, an abrasion on his left elbow and two bullets remaining in his body, Williams said. 
 
Due to his medical condition, Cooper will stay for now at the county jail because of his medical condition. However, Williams wants, in time, to look at  moving Cooper for his own safety and the safety of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, adding the situation is complicated by the fact that officers from his department shot at Cooper. 
 
Courthouse will beef up security
 
Two days after the murders, Hamilton was still shaken by the crimes. A number of county officials held an emergency meeting of the Marion County Courthouse Security Committee on Feb. 12 at the urging of Circuit Judge John Bentley. 
 
The committee unanimously voted in time for Bentley’s recommendations to equip the courthouse with a medal detector, reduce  the number of entrances and form an evacuation plan for various emergencies. 
 
The committee planned to meet again on Friday, Feb. 19, as the security committee still sorted through details, with concerns for how the plan will be paid for. However, officials indicated some preliminary actions might take place as early as Tuesday, Feb. 16, the day after the President’s Day holiday.
 
The entire Marion County Commission attended, with chairman Bob Burleson indicating the commission is already investigating ways to implement the actions--which actually implements a  1998 Alabama Supreme Court order requiring the security measures. 
 
A similar meeting was planned later in the day in Winston County which, along with Marion County, makes up the 25th Judicial Circuit.
 
The Hamilton meeting at the courthouse also marked the first statement by Hunt since the shootings. Bentley urged Hunt not to attend but to rest, even though the entire Marion County Commission was in attendance, which Hunt represents. Hunt sent a brief message to the committee, which Bentley read, urging them to adopt Bentley’s recommendations. Hunt did not specifically address the events of Feb. 10 in his message.
 
Also, Hamilton officials announced a citywide prayer service was scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15, for the E.T. Sims Jr. Community Facilities Building in Hamilton in reaction to the shootings. The event was to be sponsored by pastors and city leaders. 
 
Obituary for Cole released by Otts
 
Meanwhile, Otts Funeral Home in Sulligent announced Cole’s funeral was held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 13, at First Baptist Church in Hamilton, with visitation from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Rev. Eddie Davidson and Rev. B.J. Mills were to officiate.
 
The church is located across the block from Cole’s office where she was shot. 
 
Graveside services were to be held on Sunday, Feb. 14,  at 1 p.m. in Minor Cemetery in Kimberly. 
 
According to her online obit, Cole was born on Sept. 24, 1954, in Marion County to Faye McCombs Parker and the late David Leamon Franks. She was a graduate of Athens State University where she obtained a degree in accounting. 
 
Cole was a certified public accountant and partner at Lawler & Cole CPAs, PC in Hamilton and was a member of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). The obit said she was “a devout Christian woman” who attended church at Union Chapel Baptist Church and enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, traveling to the beach and reading daily devotions. 
 
“Linda loved life and held her family near and dear to her heart,” the obit said.
 
She was survived by her mother, Faye Parker, Hamilton; her husband, Donald Cole, Hamilton; her daughters, April (Rodney) Cole-Cagle, Detroit, and Summer (Seth) Todd, Athens; her brother,  Wayne Franks, Hamilton; her sisters, Brenda (Johnny) Cole and Terena (Rodney) Stidham, both of Hamilton; grandchildren - Nicholas (Robin) Cagle, Sulligent, Riley Cagle, Detroit,  and Isabella and Weston Todd, Athens; and special friends Bridget and Danny Holland, Jerry and Shelia Williams and James Bobo. 
 
She was preceded in death by her father, David Leamon Franks; her grandparents, Evan and Pansy McCombs;  and her father-in-law and mother-in-law, John and Gertha Cole. 
 
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Union Chapel Baptist Church, Building Fund,  P.O. Box 23, Hamilton, AL  35570.
 
Hamilton Funeral Home officials said on Feb. 15 that the funeral home did not have an obituary ready to release for Miller at presstime.
 
(When a defendant is charged with a crime, the charge is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.) 
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