Judge: Jury in shooting case should hear about defendant’s role in previous gun death

A jury should learn that Linda Cooney shot and killed her estranged husband James Cooney more than two decades ago in Florida, District Judge Betsy Gonzalez ruled Monday.

It’s a big win for Clark County prosecutors in the case against Cooney, a woman charged with attempted murder for shooting and paralyzing her son after a fight over his then girlfriend.

She is set to stand trial April 7 for shooting her son, Kevin Cooney, in 2011 with the same .357 caliber handgun that killed her husband.

Clark County prosecutor Michael Staudaher argued Linda Cooney’s statements to Karina Taylor and another ex-girlfriend, about James Cooney’s death showed a pattern of intimidating and harrassing behavior a jury should hear. Linda Cooney wanted Kevin Cooney’s girlfriends to know she was armed and had killed before, Staudaher explained.

Defense lawyer Michael Becker said bringing up the Florida shooting will “taint” the jury against his client.

A jury acquitted Linda Cooney of killing James Cooney after she claimed she shot him in self-defense. James Cooney had attacked her with a kitchen knife in her Florida home, Linda Cooney said.

And Kevin Cooney’s trial testimony — he was 11 — was instrumental in her acquittal for first-degree murder. He testified he saw his father with a shiny object, but originally told investigators his father had nothing in his hand.

Her Las Vegas lawyers have suggested she was again acting in self-defense when she shot Kevin Cooney, a 6-foot 9-inch tall former bouncer and doorman who worked at nightclubs on the Strip and downtown.

The 66-year-old is charged with attempted murder, battery with use of a deadly weapon and intimidating a witness. She’s also charged with stalking Taylor.

Testimony and court documents show Kevin Cooney and his mother were feuding over Taylor the night of the shooting. Prosecutors say Linda Cooney was trying to sabotage her son’s relationship by sending text messages to an employer saying the woman was “an evil whore.”

Linda Cooney told Las Vegas police her son punched her, causing a bruise on her chest.

Becker said he will a motion to sever the charges into two separate cases — one for the charges related to Kevin Cooney and one related to Taylor. Prosecutors would prefer to keep the cases joined.

Becker and his co-councel Michael Castillo could appeal Gonzalez’ ruling to the Supreme Court.

Linda Cooney remains free on bail.

Kevin Cooney has been diagnosed as an incomplete quadriplegic, meaning he has some movement in his arms and legs.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@review journal.com or 702-380-1039.