Linda Cooney was convicted of attempted murder Tuesday because jurors apparently didn’t believe the testimony of the son she tried to kill.
During the trial, Kevin Cooney told the jury it wasn’t his mother’s fault.
Though he was described as a loving and gregarious man by friends, he was really a monster who controlled his mother with his fists, Kevin Cooney claimed. The 6-foot-9-inch-tall, 280-pound former bouncer said he had attacked Linda Cooney because she was meddling in his relationship with Karina Taylor.
He said he pummeled her on her head, throat and body. But photographs of his mother showed only one significant bruise on her right breast.
Kevin Cooney said that as his 5-foot- 7-inch-tall mother tried to flee from him, he grabbed her and snatched the .357-caliber revolver from her arms, raised it above his body and it went off at a downward angle into his neck, paralyzing him.
But there were no powder burns or other injuries on his body or hands to support that the gun was fired at such close range.
It was his fault, he insisted. His mother was the victim.
The jury didn’t agree. After deliberating for about two and a half hours, which included a lunch break, the jury found Linda Cooney, 66, guilty of attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon and intimidating a witness for shooting and paralyzing her son. She also was convicted of stalking Kevin Cooney’s then-girlfriend, Karina Taylor.
Linda Cooney was stoic and did not react when the guilty verdict was read. Her lawyer later said she was in shock.
She was remanded into custody at the Clark County Detention Center without bail. She already is serving a six-month sentence for battery for attacking Taylor at a hospital when she was visiting Kevin Cooney.
A sentencing hearing in the attempted murder case was set for July 2 before District Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez. Linda Cooney faces three to 65 years in prison.
Prosecutors said she shot Kevin Cooney on June 28, 2011, during a feud over his then-girlfriend Taylor. Prosecutors said that before the shooting, Linda Cooney was trying to sabotage her son’s relationship by sending text messages to colleagues saying Taylor was “an evil whore.”
Defense lawyers argued Kevin Cooney attacked his mother in a rage and the gun went off during the struggle.
Afterward, prosecutor Shanon Clowers said, “This is the reason we do this job, to protect the city from people like Linda Cooney.”
Prosecutor Michael Staudaher said, “We’re glad she didn’t get away with it here.”
Staudaher voiced that opinion in alluding to Linda Cooney’s acquittal of murder for fatally shooting James Cooney more than two decades ago. A Florida jury found that Linda Cooney had acted in self-defense when she shot her ex-husband with the same .357-caliber revolver that she used to shoot her son. Kevin Cooney had testified on his mother’s behalf at the Florida trial, too.
That the Clark County jury was allowed to learn of the Florida case is expected to be one of several issues that could be the basis for an appeal in the attempted murder case, defense lawyer Michael Becker said.
“We are disappointed because we do feel the acquittal played a huge role in this case. … We have a sense that the jurors viewed the acquittal as something other than an acquittal; that she must have done something wrong to even be charged and face a trial there,” Becker said.
Becker added that he felt the prosecution misled jurors by suggesting Kevin Cooney’s brother, Christopher Cooney, was granted immunity in the case because he had done something wrong in the case. Becker said that it was the prosecution who gave the Las Vegas police officer immunity and it was improper that the jury was allowed to hear about it.
He said his client was shocked, disappointed and surprised by the verdict.
Jurors did not want to speak publicly after issuing the verdict. But Staudaher said the jury indicated to him after the trial that they did not believe Kevin and Christopher Cooney’s testimony because their stories of what happened the morning of the shooting were strikingly similar. The jury also believed Linda Cooney’s sons were trying to help their mother escape conviction, Staudaher said.
The jury heard several different stories about what happened the morning Kevin Cooney was shot.
Prosecutors asked jurors to believe the stories Kevin Cooney told hospital staff and ex-girlfriends — that he was shot by his mom and was afraid of her.
One of Kevin Cooney’s ex-girlfriends told the jury that during a hospital visit, he said he was sitting on the couch in his family’s Summerlin home when his mother shot him, which explained the downward trajectory of the bullet as it entered Kevin Cooney’s neck, prosecutors said.
Kevin Cooney testified his ex-girlfriends were liars and his mother was right about them.
Prosecutors questioned the credibility of Kevin Cooney’s story of how he was shot because it was not supported by the physical evidence, including crime scene pictures showing Linda Cooney with only one significant bruise on her right breast.
Clowers suggested that bruise occurred after Linda Cooney fired the gun and it recoiled into her chest.
Prosecutors also questioned the credibility of Christopher Cooney, who testified that their mother had told him she was attacked and the gun went off during the struggle.
Prosecutors said Linda Cooney was a puppet master who had power and control over her two children, and when that was threatened by a girlfriend, she would harass and disrupt the relationship.
“If she can’t have them, then nobody will,” Staudaher said.
But Becker said prosecutors were manipulating the evidence to fit the scenario they had created. It’s documented, Becker said, that Kevin Cooney “fantasized about killing his mom.”
After the verdict, Kevin Cooney’s ex-girlfriend, Karina Taylor told the Review-Journal she was glad the trial was finally over.
“The last few years have been very painful,” Taylor said. “Despite any negative comments Kevin may have stated, I want him to know that he is still very loved and missed.”
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @fjmccabe