Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Judge applauds teen girls for pleading guilty in random woman's beating death
Nearly two weeks after a male co-accused was acquitted of the same crime, a judge applauded two young women who pleaded guilty for their role in the random beating death of Spence Street resident Audrey Cooper nearly four years ago.
The now 18-year-old women have given Cooper’s family the satisfaction “that at least some of those who committed the offence have acted responsibly and that her death won’t go unresolved or unpunished,” said Justice Holly Beard.
The women — who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last February — appeared in court Monday for a progress report.
In May, the women received the maximum youth sentence of seven years custody and community supervision. Beard ordered that they remain in custody until August pending the submission of acceptable release plans, at which time they will be credited three years for time served.
A jury acquitted a now 19-year-old male co-accused last month following a month-long trial. Jurors heard evidence the accused admitted in a police interview to punching Cooper. The man’s lawyer argued he was merely an observer and did not participate in the beating.
“I wasn’t there, but you were and you know whether or not that’s true and whether or not (the accused) was being honest,” Beard told the women. “But whatever the truth is, that defence would not have worked for you as there was no one else to blame.”
Cooper, 34, was beaten to death in October 2006 outside the Spence Street rooming house where she lived. Jurors heard Cooper suffered more than 60 distinct injuries, including seven broken ribs, a punctured liver and a severed ear.
A third now 16-year-old female accused pleaded guilty last year to manslaughter and received the maximum youth sentence of three years custody and community supervision, with a requirement she live in a specialized group home until she is 18.
Beard urged the two women in court Monday to take advantage of the services and support that will be available to them once they are released from custody. Beard said their lives were filled with drugs and violence and that they were at risk of becoming involved in gangs and prostitution.
“Ask yourselves: Is that the life you want for yourselves or your children?” Beard said. “You made your first courageous decision when you chose to plead guilty and accept responsibility... That was the right decision then and it remains the right decision today, regardless of the outcome of (the male accused’s) trial.”
The women will return to court Aug. 18.
I am glad the women pleaded guilty and accepted responsibility for what they were involved in. However I feel that the maximum sentence of 7 years, was too harsh. The women may not have been directly involved in the killing. We do not know all of the details. They should have received 5 years total, with 3 in custody and 2 in the community.