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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 2, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 35
Not guilty plea entered in fatal Seattle stabbings
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Not guilty plea entered in fatal Seattle stabbings

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Dr. Louis Chen, accused of killing his partner and their son, pleaded not guilty at his August 29 arraignment in King County Superior Court in Seattle.

Chen is charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the first degree, a charge that carries a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, or the death penalty.

According to court records, Chen admitted to stabbing Eric Cooper, 29, more than 100 times in the face, neck, chest, back, and hands, and their 2-year-old son (numerous cuts to his neck) at their First Hill apartment.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office said on August 29, that Cooper and the boy died sometime on August 10 - one day before the bodies (and Chen) were discovered in the apartment.

Under Washington state law, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg would have 30 days from the time of arraignment to decide whether he will seek the death penalty. In court August 29, Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle granted a request from prosecutors and defense attorneys to extend until November 27 the deadline for prosecutors to determine whether to seek execution.

Chen's attorneys said during the court hearing that because Chen and Cooper had moved to Seattle only last month, more time was needed to gather information on Chen and the victims.

At this point, Chen's attorneys say they are confident that prosecutors would have no basis to pursue the death penalty against their client.

A man who is described as 'Cooper's friend' has stepped forward to talk with the Seattle Times. The man said Cooper had complained, in the days and weeks before the deaths, that an alcohol-fueled Chen became 'increasingly agitated, hostile, and paranoid about their plans to end the relationship.'

According to friends of both Cooper and Chen, the two had agreed to split up and share the parenting of young Cooper Chen.

The Times reports that law-enforcement have spoken with a number of people who knew Cooper.

In the months and days leading up to the murder, Vernon O'Reilly Ramesar said he spoke with Cooper about Chen. The two men met online and, according to the Times, 'communicated almost daily through Skype.' O'Reilly Ramesar lives in Trinidad.

According to his online friend, Cooper, who had never dated anyone other than Chen, was excited about the freedom that the split would provide him and was looking forward to getting a place of his own.

His friend described Cooper as 'cheerful' and that he had the tendency to 'pretend everything was hunky-dory.' Still, Cooper began to complain that things were becoming increasingly worse at home, going so far as to describe his life with Chen as 'unbearable.'

Cooper told his friend that Chen had been functioning as an alcoholic for quite some time. He painted a picture of a man who could easily hide his drinking from colleagues, as he always seemed to keep busy. But when Chen moved to Seattle, Cooper told O'Reilly Ramesar that with few obligations, he was drinking all the time.

It is alleged that Chen was controlling and sought to isolate Cooper from the outside world; he began accusing Cooper of trying to hack into his phone and email accounts.

The Times says that, according to Cooper's friend, he began to feel like his only job was to take care of their toddler. O'Reilly Ramesar is quoted as saying that when Chen was intoxicated he would threaten to 'leave Eric out in the cold.'

The two friends Skyped on August 9 and Cooper told his friend that things were getting really unpleasant at home.

The next day, the King County Medical Examiner's Office says, Eric Cooper and Cooper Chen were murdered.

The 39-year-old Chen is an endocrinologist who recently moved to Seattle from Durham, N.C., to work at a medical center. He's being held without bail in the King County Jail.

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