Judge: confession stays in

Published 12:34 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2016

By Matt Leonard

Staff Writer

A Smithfield resident accused of rape and sodomy appeared in Isle of Wight Circuit Court last week alongside his lawyer, who was hoping to have his confession withdrawn from evidence before trial. It won’t be.

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Christopher Cooper, 26, gave the Smithfield Police Department an oral and written confession on July 7, 2015, according to court documents. But at his arraignment on Nov. 18, 2015 he entered a plea of not guilty.

Cooper’s attorney, Antoinette Bacon, a public defender, argued that her client’s rights had been violated because his Maranda rights were not read to him soon enough, so the confession should be withdrawn. But Sergeant Chris Meier of the Smithfield Police Department said Cooper was never under arrest going into the interview — he was free to leave — so it was never necessary for the officers to read him his rights. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

According to the motion to suppress filed with the Isle of Wight Circuit Court, Meier was the officer who began the interview of Cooper in 2015. When Cooper informed Meier of plans to meet with a lawyer, Meier left the interrogation and Police Chief Steve Bowman took over questioning.

The motion says that Bowman read Cooper his Miranda rights after Cooper “made certain statements.” After these rights were read, Cooper gave a written account of what happened.

“The oral statements given by Mr. Cooper on July 7, 2015 were obtained in violation of his rights …” the motion reads.

But the court disagreed. Judge Robert Sandwich Jr. allowed the prosecutors to keep both the oral and written confession in evidence for the trial.

According to the Smithfield Police Department, Cooper is accused of raping and sodomizing a 19-year-old woman who was visiting his Smithfield home while her husband slept on the couch downstairs.

The couple was staying with him while they were in town. On their first night there, they drank and played video games. Later that night, Cooper allegedly went into the room where the victim was sleeping and raped her.

Cooper will be in court next on Aug. 10 to set a date for his trial.   {/mprestriction}