Ward County jury acquits Donald Cooper Jr.

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 10:50 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MINOT, N.D. (KMOT) – A Ward County jury has acquitted a Wisconsin man who faced a series of felony charges in a shooting in Minot more than three years ago.

As the trial came to a close, in dispute was whether Cooper was in the vehicle that investigators say pursued, and fired at, the vehicle driven by Dominick Stephens. The 29-year-old Stephens bled out internally due to a gunshot wound.

The jury found Cooper not guilty of accomplice to murder, attempted murder, reckless endangerment, and terrorizing, after two days of deliberation. Cooper’s defense attorney Jeff Bredahl praised what he called a “smart” jury who followed the court’s guidelines on burden of proof and reasonable doubt.

“I think this jury considered those two instructions like every citizen in our country deserves, and has. it’s a right, you have, I have, everyone has,” said Bredahl.

Cooper still has to serve the remainder of a 25-year sentence in Wisconsin. Prosecutors in that state say Cooper, a native of Milwaukee, fled from federal agents in April of 2020 and caused a fatal crash, just a few months after the incident in Minot.

The crash claimed the lives of Maria Buhler and Joseph Badora. Your News Leader reached out to prosecutor Tiffany Sorgen, who said the state was not allowed to mention the incident in Wisconsin, Cooper’s conviction, or sentencing.

Sorgen also said the convictions of two co-defendants in the case, Marcus Lee and Michael Dennis II, are not in jeopardy following Tuesday’s verdict.

Cooper also still faces a simple assault charge in North Dakota after prosecutors say he assaulted a fellow Ward County Jail inmate in February.

Once that case runs its course in North Dakota, he’ll be sent back to Wisconsin to serve the remainder of his sentence there.