'Evidence thin to convict Cooper of 1st wife's murder'

Court says insufficient evidence to convict man for first wife's murder, but still held in custody on alleged murder of 3rd wife.

June 6, 2013 18:58
3 minute read.
New Lod District Court

New Lod District Court 370. (photo credit: Yonah Jeremy Bob)

Lod District Court Judge Avraham Yaakov on Thursday told the prosecution that its evidence against Shimon Cooper for murdering his first wife is insufficient.

Despite the finding, Yaakov still ordered Cooper remanded to police custody until the end of the proceedings on the basis of what it said were stronger allegations against him for murdering his third wife, Jenny Cooper.

Yaakov’s ruling was not a final determination or an acquittal for Shimon regarding his third wife, as the ruling was based only on an initial review of the evidence for the purposes of deciding whether to remand Shimon to custody.

On April 29, the panel of judges handling the actual trial of the case (Yaakov’s ruling Thursday was made solely by him, not the full panel, and only on issues of remanding to custody) already approved adding to the indictment the murder of his first wife, Orit Cooperschmidt. That same panel will eventually need to make a final decision about whether to convict or acquit Shimon for each charge of murder of his former wives.

Cooper is also suspected of attempting to kill his second wife.

Recently Shimon appealed to the Supreme Court on his being remanded until the end of the proceedings, a decision Yaakov made before the amended indictment with the murder of Cooperschmidt added.

Because the appeal was filed before Yaakov (who has been the single judge dealing exclusively with extending detention issues) had even initially reviewed the amended indictment with the added murder of Cooperschmidt, the Supreme Court said it could not rule on the appeal until Yaakov made a new ruling about remand, taking into account the new murder charge.

Yaakov’s decision to disqualify the new murder charge from consideration on the issue of extending Cooper’s detention to the end of the proceedings, but to maintain his detention based on the first charge, could now lead Shimon to return to the Supreme Court for a final ruling on his extended detention.

But the bigger question is whether the prosecution, given such a hostile (legal) reception from Yaakov on its evidence for the added murder charge regarding Cooperschmidt, will drop that charge entirely, or will hope for a better result once the full panel has heard all of the evidence, including testimony of all the witnesses (Yaakov’s review of the evidence included transcripts of police interrogations.) As Yaakov rejected the new murder charge based on a legal finding that the prosecution cannot prove the murder beyond a reasonable doubt where it has no theory for how Cooperschmidt died and its only real evidence is comparing the similarities in Cooperschmidt’s death to those of Jenny’s death, the prosecution’s case could be an uphill battle and distract from what Yaakov called its stronger evidence in the murder of Jenny.

The commonalities between the murders include: Shimon carrying on relationships with two women (married to at least one) at the same time, without either fully knowing; both women being young, in good shape and having no apparent reason for suicide; ostensibly lying that the eventually dead woman was depressed, despite no evidence; both women being found in what appeared to be a staged scene of drug overdose, despite no finding of the drugs in their body in the autopsies; and financial gains for Shimon from both deaths.

Still, the court found that absent a theory of how Cooperschmidt did die (which it has with Jenny), the prosecution would not be able to convict Shimon of that murder.

A web of lies, scams and a fictional story about a Mossad hit overseas are at the center of the case, initially filed in November.

The new murder charge arose from additional investigative activities that shed new light on Shimon’s alleged method of operation in general, and regarding his first wife in particular.

In the original indictment, the Central District Attorney’s Office alleged that the 51-yearold Cooper was a serial con man who seduced and married his third wife, Jenny Cooper, and then murdered her on the night of August 20-21, 2009.

Originally, police had closed the Cooper case, until Channel 2 aired a program about the alleged murders on March 25, 2010, which caused a public uproar and led to a reopening of the investigation and the eventual indictment.

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