A Shreveport man was arraigned on one count of first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder just after noon today in the secure basement courtroom in the Caddo Courthouse.
Dressed in the red jumpsuit reserved for the most dangerous inmates at Caddo Parish Jail, Christopher Brian Cope, stood before Caddo District Judge Michael A. Pitman, as his defense attorneys Brian Dosky and Bruce Whittaker of the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, formally enrolled as his attorneys. They entered a plea of “Not guilty” after Thursday’s indictment was read to the court.
The first degree charge stems from Cope’s Oct. 24 arrest for shooting and killing Shreveport Police Sgt. Tim Prunty outside of a convenience store in south Shreveport The attempted first degree charges are in relation to the convenience store employee who was talking with Prunty at the time of the incident, and for firing at a security guard working in the guard house at Southern Trace on Norris Ferry Road.
The defendant’s family and friends watched motionless as Pitman questioned him regarding his financial status, asking if he was employed, had checking or savings accounts or owned a vehicle. In a soft voice, Cope told the judge he had a job, but was not working (due to his jail status), had a balance of $20 in his account, and no longer owned a vehicle.
Satisfied that the defendant had “no source of income,” Pitman approved the defendant’s indigent status and thus entitled to representation by the DPSL. In addition, Pitman said though the grand jury did not set bond on the first degree murder charge, it did set a bond of $1 million on each count of attempted 1st degree murder.
The judge set 9:30 a.m. Jan. 26, 2011, as the next court date. At that time the defense is expected to ask the district attorney’s office for discovery.
Cope’s father, retired Shreveport Police supervisor Karl Cope, sat stoically next to his wife and the defendant’s mother, as the charges against their son were read. Also in the courtroom were other family members and friends, along with Cope’s brother, who, though not a twin, bears a close resemblance to the defendant.
Pitman, who is presiding over a criminal jury trial with final arguments taking place this afternoon, agreed to hold Cope’s arraignment earlier than expected in order to accommodate defense attorneys, whose offices are in New Orleans.