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Fitness test ordered for murder suspect

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: December 7, 2012 9:42AM

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP — A judge on Thursday ordered Aurora murder suspect Delbert Cooper to undergo a fitness evaluation after his attorney raised issues of depression and a past suicide attempt.

Cooper has pleaded not guilty to strangling and stabbing his girlfriend Renee Perry inside her Second Avenue apartment in December 2011. Cooper choked Perry for several minutes after an argument over his drug use, and then stabbed her, according to prosecutors and court documents. Cooper remains in the Kane County Jail on $525,000 bail.

Prosecutors want to use so-called “prior bad acts” evidence of Cooper’s past domestic violence convictions at trial, and are awaiting a hearing on the issue. However, that matter will have to wait, according to Judge John Barsanti, because of defense attorney Herb Hill’s belief Cooper is not fit to stand trial.

In a motion filed in court, Hill said Cooper has been diagnosed with depression, has prescriptions for two antidepressant medications and, in 2004, tried to hang himself in a suicide attempt. Those factors would make it difficult for Cooper to assist in his defense.

Hill is also seeking to suppress Cooper’s statements to investigators.

“We have to have him evaluated,” said Barsanti, who took over the case this week for now-retired Circuit Judge Timothy Sheldon. “I think we have to put everything on hold.”

Barsanti ordered an evaluation for Cooper and set the case for a Feb. 14 hearing.

Prosecutors contend Cooper became angry with Perry after she questioned his crack cocaine use on Dec. 19, 2011. Cooper left Perry’s body and went to the hospital for a cut he suffered while handling the knife used to stab Perry, prosecutors said.

At the time of Perry’s death, Cooper was wanted on probation violations tied to his arrest for spitting in Perry’s face in 2010. Twice a judge issued arrest warrants for Cooper, the second of which came in July 2011 after he missed court twice, tested positive for marijuana and failed to show up for probation meetings. He was not arrested until shortly after Perry’s body was discovered.

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