Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. District Attorney Will Ramsay concluded his list of witnesses and the prosecution rested in the 8th Judicial District Court trial of Roy Dean Duffey. Duffey is on trial for Manslaughter for the February 20, 2011 stabbing death of David Harrison Cooper.
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.
Among the witnesses called, Ramsay concluded Tuesday morning’s testimony with Sulphur Springs Criminal Investigator Bo Fox on the stand. Fox, who has been with the SSPD since November 1, 1998 and for the past nine years in CID, recounted his investigation. Defense attorney Frank Hughes sought ways to question Fox about Cooper’s encounters with law officers in Sulphur Springs but struggled to find his wording of questions acceptable to the court. Judge Northcutt told Hughes the attorney could submit documents to the court to introduce Cooper’s past record. Hughes finally found a line of questioning regarding one specific incident in Cooper’s past. Hughes also questioned Fox regarding Fox’s interview of witnesses and investigative techniques.
Prior to Tuesday morning, Ramsay had called Detective David Gilmore to testify. Gilmore, who has 26 years in the SSPD, was the on call Criminal Investigator for the week of February 20, 2011. Gilmore, who said that not only the lead detective but also any detective could collect evidence and investigate a crime scene, reviewed 20 photos he had taken at the scene and recounted finding a hacksaw in a field across the street from the Lamar Street location of the incident. Gilmore stated he found a small amount of marijuana just inside the front door of the house during his investigation. He also found a possible witness to the altercation, James Baxley. Baxley had been working on his car at the scene but had left the scene before police arrived.
Baxley is currently an inmate in Hopkins County Jail following arraignment for possession of a controlled substance as of Monday of this week.
Rusty Stillwagoner, Chief Investigator for SSPD, also testified that a large crowd had been drawn to the scene and that city and county officers were called up for crowd control to keep the crime scene secure. Stillwagoner had inspected the body of Cooper for other injuries and found none other than those noted by the medical examiner in Monday’s testimony. He had also checked the pockets of Cooper and found no weapon.
Stillwagoner told of going to Duffey’s residence and finding what he identified as a World War II fighting knife. Stillwagoner stated that he is a collector of knives and recognized the knife due to the length of blade and hilt on the handle. He said it was made for close quarter man-to-man fighting. He stated the knife was “absolutely” a deadly weapon in response to the D. A.’s question. The knife was found between the console and seat of Duffey’s truck and the blade had blood on it. The investigator also found a single shot 410 shotgun in the truck. The defense did not question Stillwagoner.
Brian Shurtleff, who has recently been transferred to the K-9 division of SSPD, stated that he was a part of crowd control and had searched the empty lot across the street for tools that had been thrown there. Duffey’s attorney had said several tools had been thrown into the field. Shurtleff said only one, the hacksaw, had been found.
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.
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.