Monday morning in the 8th Judicial District Court Room, District Judge Eddie Northcutt began hearing evidence in a Manslaughter Felony 2 trial. Roy Dean Duffey is being tried in connection with the stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper on February 20, 2011. The trial follows a denial of a plea bargain agreement reached and an appeal that overturned a 12-year sentence given Duffey by then District Judge Robert Newsom.
In March, Judge Northcutt reset the trial to give the defense attorney more time to prepare and to give the District Attorney’s office an opportunity to refile their motion in a different form than first submitted.
Monday morning District Attorney Will Ramsay played the February 20, 2011, 911 call and followed that with Dr. Reed Quinton, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner in Dallas County. Quinton, a forensic expert who now teaches as well as conducts autopsies said that a one inch wide incision and 4.5 inches deep stab wound went through a rib and into the right ventricle of Cooper’s heart. The one inch stab wound also had a 3.5 inches trail across Cooper’s chest. No other injuries, except an abrasion across the bridge of the nose were evident in the autopsy. Quinton said Cooper probably lived a few seconds following the wound. The defense for Duffey asked if the wound could have been caused by falling on the knife and the Medical Examiner said “Yes.”
The medical examiner stated there was only a small trace of marijuana and no other drug or alcohol found in the toxicology report. When asked by the defense if the marijuana was enough to create mental impairment, Dr. Quinton stated medical science has not reached a conclusion regarding the amount needed to cause mental impairment. He stated that is one of the arguments being made in the current attempts to legalize the drug.
Captain Jason Ricketson with the Sulphur Springs Police Department was the second witness called by the prosecution. Ricketson, who was a Lieutenant and day shift supervisor for the department in 2011, stated he responded to the 911 call placed February 20th along with patrol officers. He arrived quickly after the call was placed and found three females, one of whom was kneeling beside Cooper’s body. A check of Cooper’s pulse did not provide a pulse. Firemen and EMS soon arrived along with other law enforcement. CPR was given but with no result. Ricketson said he ordered the area cleared and posted to preserve the crime scene. Statements were taken and, shortly after, the investigation was turned over the Texas Ranger John Vance and SSPD Detective Bo Fox. He also pointed out that the pockets of Cooper’s clothing were emptied by Detective Rusty Stillwagoner and no weapons were found.
The trial is expected to continue for three days. DA Ramsay plans to call the three females who witnessed the event and also other law enforcement personnel before the defense presents their case.