The Norman Transcript

June 14, 2013

Witness in Hopper manslaughter trial said she felt pressured by defendant's family

By Arianna Pickard
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — A key witness testified Thursday in Cleveland County District Court that she felt pressured to help the defendent cover up a shooting death. The manslaughter trial began Wednesday.

Cole Dean Hopper, 21, was charged with manslaughter for his suspected involvement in the death of Kelsey Bransby, 19.

Thursday, Danielle Cooley testified in court that she told a jailer who she formed a relationship with while she was incarcerated last year that Hopper shot the victim.

Prosecuting attorneys played a recording of a phone conversation between Cooley and the jailer.

“His mom and his family keep trying to make me feel bad,” Cooley said in the recording. “I can’t help that he did it, so I’m not going to help him get out of it ... I’m not going to help him lie in court.”

This phone conversation took place last year after Cooley had been in jail for a while, she testified. She was in jail for six months, and during that time her relationship with the jailer allowed her to leave her cell when she wanted.

Cooley testified that while she didn’t see Hopper shoot Bransby, Hopper had never told Cooley that Bransby shot herself.

Three other witnesses testified Thursday that they’d seen Hopper with guns before Bransby was shot.

Cody Beecroft, a friend of Bransby and Hopper, testified that Hopper had shown his guns to Beecroft before, and a couple weeks before Bransby was shot, Beecroft saw Hopper put two guns in a closet where he kept his belongings in the apartment he was staying in.

Beecroft said he never noticed ammunition in Hoppers’ guns, but Hopper’s roommate testified that Hopper had accidentally fired one of his guns while cleaning it in their apartment about a month and a half before Bransby was shot.

Hopper’s neighbor, Kenneth Wall, testified that he had seen Hopper with the guns on several occasions. Wall said Hopper would often playfully point them at Cooley or Bransby and say “boom.”

“It was his sense of humor,” Wall said.

The trial, which was supposed to end Friday, has been extended and will continue Monday, District Judge Tracy Schumacher said.