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Cooper guilty of strangling Aurora woman to death

Delbert K. Cooper faces four counts first degree murder slaying his girlfriend their Aurorapartment.

Delbert K. Cooper faces four counts of first degree murder in the slaying of his girlfriend in their Aurora apartment.

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Updated: February 20, 2014 6:42AM

“What I’m going to get right now is justice.”

Those were the words Yvette Strawder said as she entered the courtroom Friday morning on the final day of Delbert Cooper’s first-degree murder trial.

Nearly six hours later, she walked back out of the courtroom with exactly that.

Jurors found the Aurora man guilty of strangling Strawder’s daughter, Renee Perry, to death on Dec. 19, 2011.

Prosecutors said the couple was fighting about Cooper’s drug use when the argument escalated and turned violent.

Evidence showed that Cooper choked Perry for more than four minutes, causing her death, before stabbing her in the back of the neck with a knife.

Cooper then covered Perry up with a pile of clothing and left the apartment to go smoke crack cocaine, never reporting her death to police.

“Renee Perry was 21 years old when she was callously and viciously killed,” Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Christine Bayer told jurors. “She did not provoke him. He did not need to act in any self defense ... (Cooper) purposely, knowingly, and intentionally killed Renee Perry.”

Defense attorney Herbert Hill made the case that Perry, upset with Cooper’s drug use, came after him with a knife. Cooper alleged that this was nothing new, and that Perry had become violent toward him in the past.

“(Perry) was perfectly capable of killing him, injuring him, causing him harm,” Hill said during his closing argument. “His effort was to try and disarm her.”

Cooper told police that Perry would use a knife to cut him whenever he used drugs. On this particular day, he said he was in fear of losing his life.

“It was the passion of circumstances that brought this out,” Hill said. “... there is no evidence that (Cooper) went into this situation with the thought process in his mind that he wanted to kill her.”

Prosecutors said it was what Cooper did afterwards that show his intent. Cooper never called police to report that Perry was unconscious and bleeding. Instead, he changed his outfit, and tossed his clothes on top of her body, Bayer said.

“The only evidence of self-defense is the defendant’s self-serving statement,” Bayer said. “All of his stories about Renee coming at him with a knife, it’s just mere make-up.”

Perry’s mother said the two had had a volatile four-year long relationship, and that they often urged Perry to leave. Cooper had a history of violence toward women, and had served prison time for assaulting a female relative.

“When Renee came to visit us, you could tell she was scared (of him),” Strawder said.

Cooper faces a sentence of between 20 and 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

“This verdict shows that the jury saw through the defendant’s incredible story that he acted in self-defense. Renee’s death was the result of a man who put his desire to use drugs before his responsibilities as a human being. I hope Renee’s family now feels a sense of peace and justice,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.

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