Roy Dean Duffey was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas Department of Corrections and a fine of $5,000 Wednesday afternoon. In pronouncing the sentence, 8th Judicial District Judge Eddie Northcutt reviewed the testimony of a number of witnesses who had testified to the character of Duffey and David Harrison Cooper whom Duffey murdered with a battle knife. Duffey was found guilty of murder late Tuesday afternoon in the bench trial in Hopkins County Courthouse. Duffey has 30 days to appeal the sentence and gave every indication that he will do so.
District Attorney Will Ramsay said that because the murder was “aggravated”, Duffey must serve at least one half of his sentence before being eligible for parole. Ramsay stated, “Of course, I would have liked for Mr. Duffey to have received a longer sentence. That being said, I have full faith and confidence in how Judge Northcutt evaluates these cases and I whole-heartedly respect his verdict. I am so thankful that justice has been served for the Cooper family. Because this was a retrial, I am eternally grateful for the witnesses who, once again, had to testify about these facts in court. It is extremely difficult to testify in a murder case, but to do it twice is excruciating. These witnesses showed incredible strength in coming forward with the truth.”
Among witnesses called by District Attorney Will Ramsay was a step-daughter of Duffey who testified that he raped her and that severely affected her life. She said during testimony that she would have been a different person had it not been for Duffey.
Cooper’s mother testified that she was in church when the murder took place. She noted that although Cooper had problems obeying the law, his life was changing. She said others were noting the change as well. Perhaps the most ironic story of the trial was told by Cooper’s mother. As a child, Cooper suffered with asthma. He had a severe attack and was taken to the doctor who wanted Cooper placed under an oxygen tent. She took him home for her husband to build the tent for him. When she arrived at home, her sister, who was then living with Duffey, told her that Duffey wanted her to know that an Oak tree up wind from their house was giving off huge amounts of pollen and that the doctor could give the child a shot for that. She took the child to the doctor, who then administered the medicine. The doctor told Cooper’s mother that the child would have died had they not administered the medicine. She credited Duffey with saving her son’s life but now he had taken her son’s life.
The defense sought to show Duffey in a better light. A step-daughter who had lived in Duffey’s home from age 4 to 18 testified that he had been a good father to her. Although her sister had said he had molested her, the witnesses called her sister “very promiscuous”. The D A pointed out that the best friend of the sister bore Duffey’s child when the woman was 20 and Duffey in his 50’s.
The District Attorney had asked for a life sentence. However, Judge Northcutt had concluded from testimony that Cooper had aggravated the actions of Duffey. Judge Northcutt handed down the sentence calling the murder an “influence of sudden passion” which provides a sentence of 2-20 years for manslaughter.