WARSAW — “One person here showed courage today and Mr. Cooper, it certainly wasn’t you.” Kosciusko County Superior Court 1 Judge David Cates addressed the defendant in a felony domestic battery case just moments after sentencing the man to two years behind bars with possibly one to serve.
Shawn R. Cooper, 39, 12600 S. SR 13, Lot 19, North Manchester, pleaded guilty to domestic battery, a level 6 felony on May 19. In exchange for his plea, prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of strangulation and Cooper appeared in court on Thursday, June 6 for sentencing.
Police reported that in February, Cooper and the victim were living together in a trailer park in Kosciusko County. Officers were called to the home on Feb. 8, for a welfare check when the victim’s aunt was alerted by text message from the victim’s neighbor that the woman had been beaten unrecognizable by Cooper. Officers arrived and reported that Cooper told them the woman was not home and had gone to a trailer park in North Manchester. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the initial caller called back to Central Dispatch within the hour and reported that the victim does not have a vehicle and that she believed the woman to still be in the home. When officers returned, Cooper reportedly told a different story, but still claimed the woman was not at home. Police questioned Cooper further when they saw the woman’s nine-month-old child in the residence and Cooper changed his story a third time, but told police the woman was in the residence but added that she had suffered a fall, which caused bruising to her face.
Police located the woman in the bedroom and reported she was completely covered in bruises. She told police she had been hospitalized after a four-wheeler accident, but when officers asked to see her discharge papers, she admitted she had not been hospitalized. It was then that Cooper reportedly told police yet a different story on how the woman became injured.
The woman told police another version, which differed from Cooper’s latest rendition, according to police.
Police reported they then removed Cooper from the residence and called for an ambulance to take the woman to Kosciusko Community Hospital. According to police, when Cooper eventually admitted he had caused the bruising, he told police the woman had attacked him and that he defending himself by pushing her away with his foot. As evidence for his version of the story, Cooper showed police a scratch on his finger. The woman, while in the hospital, reportedly eventually told police the final version, which involved Cooper hitting, kicking and biting her while in a fit of rage. According to the probable cause affidavit, Cooper, while incarcerated, eventually told police he had “snapped,” and caused the injuries to the woman without physical provocation.
Kosciusko County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brad Voelz presented photographs taken of the woman during her hospital stay. The woman took the stand and was visibly shaken when shown the photos.
“They (police) showed up twice,” she said. “This is not the first time he did this to me. I tried my hardest to get out, but I was too scared of him. With everything that he did, it affected me so bad that I’m not even myself. He deserves to be punished.”
The woman went on to tell Cates that the abuse was ongoing and that when company came over, she hid in the back of the home to avoid being seen and asked to explain her injuries..
“I think we learned some things in court today that could not be learned in a cold, court document,” said Voelz.
Cooper’s attorney, Austin Rovenstine, asked Cates to allow for some reasonable communication between Cooper and the victim upon his release since the two have a child together. Voelz, and ultimately Cates, rejected the idea.
Cooper kept his head down during the victim’s entire statement, but when asked to speak prior to sentencing, was tearful and unintelligible.
“I’m quite certain these events will not define you,” said Cates to the victim in the audience. “Mr. Cooper, I wish I could say the same thing about you. You say you’re ashamed. You should be.”
Cates sentenced Cooper to two years in the Kosciusko County Jail and suspended one of those years in favor of probation. He ordered Cooper to not have any contact with the victim. Cooper was also given 119 days of jail time credit.