A New Orleans man was sentenced to 40 years in prison Thursday for a 2012 shooting and attempted robbery that left a Kentucky man paralyzed from the chest down.
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Benedict Willard handed the sentence to Iren Cooper, 25, three weeks after a jury convicted him of attempted murder and attempted armed robbery.
At the trial, 49-year-old Mark Wright recounted a harrowing crime on the evening of Oct. 19, 2012, that began as he sat in his Chevy Trailblazer in the parking lot of a motel on Chef Menteur Highway in New Orleans East. Wright was living at the motel after moving to New Orleans to run a business grinding concrete slabs into gravel.
He said he opened his car door to find a man holding a gun to his head. Wright, who kept a silver revolver in his backpack, said Cooper got anxious and shot him in the arm and side during a struggle over the bag.
Wright said he managed to fire back, then ran behind the truck to find his assailant sitting on the ground, injured. Wright tried to flee but saw “a split-second flash of light” before falling paralyzed to the ground, he said.
He never identified Cooper as his assailant. But shortly afterward, Cooper showed up at a different hospital with a gunshot wound to his leg.
Cooper told police he had just been robbed near Mandeville and North Derbigny streets. DNA from droplets of blood found near the shooting scene, and from skin cells on a hat left near Wright’s vehicle, showed otherwise, the jury heard.
Willard sentenced Cooper to 40 years on the attempted murder count and 25 years for attempted robbery, with the sentences to run concurrently. Cooper faced as much as 55 years behind bars after his April 1 conviction.
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