NWGA Scanner | March 4th, 2022
March 3, 2022 (Dalton) – Pamela Lee Cooper (64), formerly of 143 Santa Fe Trail, Dalton, was found guilty Thursday by a Whitfield County jury of family violence aggravated assault (two counts), family violence aggravated battery, possession of a knife during the commission of a crime, and family violence battery. Superior Court Judge Scott Minter presided over the trial and scheduled sentencing for April 8th. Cooper faces up to 20 years in prison for each charge of family violence aggravated assault and family violence aggravated battery plus an additional five years for the weapon charge and up to 12 months on the family violence battery. Cooper had bonded out after her original arrest on May 23, 2020 but was rearrested in October of last year for violating a family violence order and has been in custody since that arrest. She will remain in custody pending sentencing. The State’s case was presented by Assistant District Attorney Meg Deitz Parker. The Defendant was represented by Dalton attorneys Steve Williams and Sam Sanders.
The jury was selected on Monday, February 28th, at the Dalton Convention Center due to ongoing renovations at the courthouse. The trial began at the Courthouse on Tuesday, March 1st and concluded on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 2nd. Parker presented more than 65 exhibits and called 8 witnesses during the trial including Detective Dewayne Holmes of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office who had lead the investigation. The State’s case focused on Cooper’s actions towards her boyfriend of over 40 years which occurred on May 23, 2020. The evidence presented showed that Cooper had struck her boyfriend in the back of the head with a glass ash tray and stabbed him in the stomach with a filet knife. The evidence presented included recordings of both parties’ statements, photographs of the victim’s injuries, and testimony regarding Cooper’s prior act of attacking her boyfriend with a knife in 1988. The State also presented photographs of Cooper from the morning after the assault on May 23, 2020, photographs of the crime scene, and jail calls made by Cooper instructing family members to tell the victim to stay out of state.
The victim was not cooperative with the prosecution and was not under subpoena heading into jury selection. The Court had previously granted a motion filed by Parker to allow the victim’s prior statements, over a defense hearsay objection, because of evidence that the Defendant herself was responsible for the victim’s unavailability. However, in spite of having no contact with the District Attorney’s Office about the trial or court dates, the victim appeared at the Dalton Convention Center on Monday, was spotted by Parker and served with a subpoena before he left the building. He remained uncooperative however, recanting his prior statements against Cooper from the witness stand. The jury deliberated for almost three hours starting Wednesday afternoon and concluding Thursday morning with the verdict of guilty on all counts.
Parker stated, “This case shows the complexity of domestic violence that our team in the Domestic Violence Unit sees every day. Unaddressed violence in an intimate relationship will continue to escalate which leads to law enforcement becoming involved. Once law enforcement becomes involved, we frequently face issues from the defendant’s family or the victim themselves not wanting to cooperate once the violence has ended. But there comes a time when there is no denying that a relationship is out of control and something has to be done. This relationship was out of control and the jury made the right call by finding Cooper’s actions were not justified. Detective Holmes and the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies who responded to the scene did an excellent job in their work to document the scene and what they found to help the jury reach their verdict.”
The Domestic Violence Unit within the District Attorney’s Office was established under former district attorney Kermit McManus in 1997 in order to provide additional resources for investigating cases that are typically very challenging to prosecute. The unit is funded in part by a federal Violence Against Women Act grant as well as by local funds provided by Whitfield County. The unit also works closely with the Domestic Violence Accountability Court presided over by Judge Cindy Morris and with the Northwest Georgia Family Crisis Center and with law enforcement and other agencies dedicated to protecting victims and ended domestic violence.