Livingston, April 12, 2013: Eric Eugene Cooper showed up for the punishment phase of his sexual assault of a child trial in a wheel chair with an IV attached.
495 Years in Prison, The Con Man Casanova Will Spend the Rest of His Days Behind Bars, LIVINGSTON, April 12, 2013 - 495 years in TDCJ. That's the sentence handed down by a Polk County Jury to Eric Eugene Cooper for his conviction of sexual assault of a child (times 5). Friday afternoon (April 12, 2013) the punishment phase of Cooper concluded and the sentence was harsh. The reality of the matter is that Cooper is reaping the harvest from the seeds he sowed through the years of messing people over; primarily women, but he also messed over other people. The stuff that came out from witnesses who testified has all the makings of a Hollywood script. I couldn't have dreamed up the things that this scheming, nice looking, smooth talking con artist did. Before we get to some of those particulars, here's what went down in Judge Coker's 258th District Court: A Polk County Jury listened to witnesses testimonies who have been involved with Cooper in some capacity over the years. When the witnesses were done, closing arguments were presented from Prosecutor Joe Martin, and the Defense, Cecil Berg. The jury went into deliberation and in less than an hour, returned with a verdict of 99 years for each conviction, and a $10,000 fine attached to each. On top of that, Judge Elizabeth Coker, ordered that the sentences be served consecutively (also known as stacked). That means, when he reaches the end of his first 99 years, THEN the second count kicks in, and so on. Eric Cooper (who is normally physically active) suddenly fell sick on the day his punishment phase was scheduled. Cooper managed to delay it for a day, then, this morning (April 12, 2013) he showed up after 10 am (for the 9 am hearing) in a wheel chair, with an IV attached, and accompanied by medical personnel. The pathetic scene made most jaws drop. From that point, it was all down hill. Prosecutor Joe Martin didn't hold back as he brought in witness after witness of people who were unfortunate enough to cross paths with this con artist. We'll hit briefly on some of the lowlights of Cooper's career as a con artist:
• Brandy Bowden, mother of Cooper's 11 year old child: Cooper first met Bowden at a dance club in Splendora in 2000 and told her he was a naval JAG officer. A relationship was established, and at one point, in a fit of jealousy, Cooper held a pistol to Bowden's head, then threatened to kill himself, then tased her with a taser gun. Cooper also broke a family portrait over Bowden's head. While seeing Bowden, Cooper is alleged to have had relationships with several other women.
• Krystal Webber: Webber met Cooper in 2004 through a dating website. Cooper told Webber he was a naval officer. On their first date, Cooper showed up in a naval uniform and introduced himself under the name of Tyler Lee. He told her that he was a F-16 fighter pilot. When introduced to her parents, he agreed to work on their computer and got financial information. Cooper used that financial information to drain their account to pay his bills. Cooper took Webber to Friendswood to look at $400,000 (and up) homes for sale. Then he took her to Las Vegas and married her. According to Cooper, on the first night of their marriage, he became verbally abusive and threatening to her. During the mornings, he would get up and put on his naval uniform and leave as if he was going to work. When Webber went off to work, she would occasionally come home early and he would always be there (after she had left).
• When Cooper took the witness stand, he was asked by his lawyer (Cecil Berg), how many times he had been married, Cooper had to think for a minute, then stated six times (but he wasn't sure).
• Tonya Causey: Causey was unfortunate enough to be Cooper's neighbor at an apartment complex in Kingwood. The single mother began dating Cooper in 2004. Once again, he told her he was a naval fighter pilot. Cooper stole cash from her, stole her debit card, stole money out of her bank account, became violent with her. Cooper would go with Causey to places in his naval uniform. He went as far as going to Causey's son's school (2nd grade class) in his naval uniform and speaking to the class, receiving accolades from the children, and signing autographs (he did this several times).
• Tasha Wicker: Cooper met Wicker in 2011 through an internet dating service and told her his name was Eric Daniels. Cooper told Daniels that he lived in Minnesota and that he had never been married.
• Robert Kinder: Cooper saw the elderly Kinder at the Cleveland VFW. Cooper swooped in wearing his naval uniform and told Kinder that he was Kinder's son. Cooper left Kinder and returned with a swab and conned Kinder into opening his mouth so that "this naval official" could get DNA for the Navy to test. Cooper returned to Kinder a couple of days later (in naval uniform) and stated that navy test results showed that Kinder was Cooper's father. Kinder somewhat accepted this. Cooper went to Kinder's house a couple of times, stole Kinder's deer rifle and his check book. When Kinder went to the bank to do business, he was informed that his checking account was overdrawn by $3,600.
• Another woman that Cooper had married found out that Cooper had another wife. Cooper explained it away by informing her that he was divorced. But Cooper never did divorce. Cooper was charged in Montgomery County with bigamy.
• Courtney Miller: Now 17, Cooper and his wife (Miller's aunt) came to live with Miller and her mom after Cooper's house had burned down. One day, when Miller was in the kitchen, Cooper came up behind the 15 year old and rubbed his penis against her. Miller resisted. Cooper tried to get her to send him nude pictures of herself electronically.
• Deputy Shawn Dunn: Former Polk County Sheriff Deputy Shawn Dunn was in Walmart off duty in 2002 when he spotted Cooper in the electronics section. Cooper caught Dunn's attention because Cooper was in his naval uniform. Cooper had an automatic pistol tucked under his belt (right off the bat, that's a uniform violation as the gun should be in a holster). Cooper's pants didn't match his naval jacket. The insignia on Cooper's hat looked tampered with. Additionally, Cooper had a taser gun with pistol belt, and two holsters that didn't have a gun. Cooper also had plastic handcuffs, with plastic cuff keys, and a plastic police badge. When Dunn approached Cooper and asked who he was, Cooper informed Dunn that he was Robert Kinder, Navy Seal. Deputy Dunn called local law enforcement. Dunn searched Cooper and found Cooper's driver's license which showed his real name. Local law enforcement showed up and ran Cooper's license and found that he was wanted out of Montgomery County for the charge of bigamy. Cooper was also charged with failure to correctly identify. When Prosecutor Joe Martin asked Cooper about this incident, Cooper claimed that he didn't remember being in Livingston Walmart and that he woke up in Polk County Jail.
When Cooper was at the witness stand, Prosecutor Joe Martin asked Cooper what he thought of a person who would pose as a military hero at a time when our nation was at war. Cooper stated to Martin "I guess it's bad, but it happens everyday in the movies". Martin reminded Cooper that Cooper's grandmother sold her property to help pay for his legal fees. During closing arguments, Martin told the jury that Cooper's actions were just crazy and that he couldn't make this stuff up. Martin stated to the jury "I don't think that we could plumb the depths of the amount of hurt that this self absorbed man put on people. He needs to stay in prison for the rest of his life. That's the only way people will be safe from his narcissism".
During an impact statement from the father of the 14 year old victim that Cooper molested, the father stated to Cooper, "...You've left a trail of broken lives in your trail of destruction. You will perish behind bars as an insignificant lying entity".
A man reaps what he sows. For Eric Cooper, his big harvest day came back to him in a public setting where many of the mean things he did to people returned to bite him in a particularly nasty way. Now, at the age of only 36, he will likely spend the rest of his days behind bars with the most undesirable room mates. Cooper better step up his conning ways (now he needs them more than ever).
After the trial, Eric Cooper reportedly immediately filed for an appeal.
Dr. Raymond Luna (right) explained to the court that Cooper caused himself to get sick by a self induced insulin overdose (258th District Judge, Elizabeth Coker pictured at left).
Prosecutor, Joe Martin implored the jury to hand down 99 years for each of the 5 counts being charged against Cooper (the jury did).
When Cooper took the witness stand, he was grilled by prosecutor, Joe Martin.
Original Story Below
Eric Eugene Cooper, 36, of Trinity County.
Trinity Man Convicted of 5 Counts of Sexual Assault of a Child, LIVINGSTON, April 10, 2013 - A Polk County Jury found a Trinity man guilty of five counts of sexual assault of a child. Eric Eugene Cooper, 36, of Trinity County was on trial in Judge Elizabeth Coker's 258th District Courth for the June, 2011 allegations of sexual assault of a 14 year old girl that took place at an Assembly of God church in Onalaska and at the child's home. The jury was comprised of 10 women and 2 men. Everything started in July of 2011 when the victim stated to her mother that she had been having sexual relations with Cooper. The victim even produced birth control pills that Cooper had provided for her. The upset mother contacted Onalaska Police Chief Ron Gilbert. The victim also brought forth briefs that belonged to Cooper. Forensics investigation indicated that the briefs had DNA from both Cooper and the victim. According to the victim, Cooper had sexual intercourse with her in a Sunday school class at the Church and at her house one night when the parents weren't home (the parents were assisting in a church function that night). After a forensic examination of the victim, and forensic interviews, a warrant was issued and signed by Judge David Johnson and Cooper was arrested the following day. More evidence against Cooper were cell phone records that showed Cooper had placed many phone calls to the victim in late night hours, after midnight. Cooper told the girl who was allegedly having a strained relationship with her parents, that he would run away with her to Germany and marry her. Cooper even acquired homeschooling materials so that he could continue her education. Prosecutor, Joe Martin implored the jury, "Do not let this man walk". Cooper's lawyer, Cecil Berg, told the jury that scientific facts were not adding up. Berg told the jury that the bedroom of the girl (where the sexual assaults took place) was combed for DNA evidence and that none was found, not even the comforter that the assault took place on. "No blood, no semen, no pubic hairs, no DNA on anything (including wall table and chairs from the room)".
The jury deliberated for about an hour and returned with a verdict of guilty on all five counts. Punishment phase will take place today. Cooper is facing 2 to 20 years in prison for each of the five counts of which he's been found guilty.
Livingston, April 10, 2013: Eric Eugene Coopeer and his Lawyer, Cecil Berg listen to closing arguments presented by prosecutor Joe Martin in Judge Cokers 258th District Court.
Cooper and his Lawyer stand and listen as the verdict of guilty of 5 counts of sexual assault of a child are read.
At the conclusion of the trial, Onalaska Police Chief, Ron Gilbert received hugs from family members of the victim. Gilbert is the officer who charged Cooper with 5 counts of sexual assault of a child.
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