Kelsey Bransby was killed a little less than two years ago, but somehow it feels like it has been decades, perhaps even centuries. She was found in her south Oklahoma City apartment on October 27th, 2011. She had been shot in the face.
Her death came on the heels of the grisly murder of Carina Saunders and before the nude body of Alina Fitzpatrick was discovered in far eastern OKC. It was a deadly fall for young women. First Saunders, then Bransby and Fitzpatrick, and finally Jaymie Adams went missing in December, only to be found also murdered in January of 2012.
Two arrests were made in the Saunders' case, but the suspects were released. The suburban Bethany, OK police department was simply in over its head and finally had to hand the case off to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. By the time they did the entire affair was so badly botched a resolution may never be reached. Fitzpatrick's death remains an utter mystery. In fact it almost feels as if the OKCPD has simply written it off as just another drug OD--tragic, but nothing to expend manpower on. Adams' husband, Justin was initially arrested and charged with her murder, but police and the DA, just as in the Saunders' case, could never build a solid base of evidence. They reduced the charges against Justin Adams and arrested a man named Joseph Cyr, who they maintain met and had sex with Ms. Adams shortly before she was murdered.
For reasons known only to the local media Kelsey Bransby's death received the least amount of attention of the four that fall. Perhaps it was because it wasn't as gruesomely lurid as the others. Saunders had been dismembered, Fitzpatrick was found naked with some sort of gag stuffed in her mouth, and Adams was pregnant, but pulling down tricks she found through Craigslist. The print and on air news outlets seemed to regard the killing of Kelsey Bransby as just part of the price we pay for living in a big town.
However, while the other cases seem suspended in mid air, the curtain has risen on the final act of Kelsey Bransby's tragedy. Last spring Danielle Marie Cooley and Cole Dean Hopper were arrested and charged with second degree murder. They both were friends of the victim.
The Norman Transcript has reported, Cooley pleaded guilty to second degree murder after the fact last November and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Jury selection was completed yesterday in Cleveland County court and today testimony will begin in the trial of Cole Dean Hopper.
Cooley had previously said she and Hopper were just hanging out at Ms. Bransby's apartment the night she was shot. She told police she was watching TV while Hopper and Bransby were, "playing around." She said she heard a single gunshot and then Hopper yell Kelsey's name. Cooley has since admitted she was high at the time and claimed Hopper told her he had previous run ins with the police. According to her they both panicked and took off without calling 911. She contends that she doesn't know what happened to the gun.
Apparently Hopper has secured much better legal counsel than Cooley did. Even though he is the one thought to have been holding the weapon when it went off, the charges against him have been downgraded to manslaughter. Cooley got 25 years for watching TV and running, but Hopper, if convicted, might be sentenced to as few as 4 years, although he could also go away for life, or anywhere in between.
True to their initial indifference, none of the OKC media outlets have said a word online about either Cooley's guilty plea, or the start of Hopper's trial. The only news source covering the case has been the Norman Transcript. The trial is being held in Norman because Bransby's apartment, while within the Oklahoma City limits, sat on the south side of the line that separates Cleveland and Oklahoma counties.
The Transcript reports that Hopper's defense attorney, David Smith questioned potential jurors about their knowledge of a particular type of hand gun and if they knew of any problems with the weapon. He then alluded to accidents happening with firearms. He also asked if any of them was familiar with the drug, Opana. Drugs.com lists Opana (Oxymorphone) as an opiod pain killer used to treat moderate to severe pain. Then it notes, "Opana may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide." It doesn't take Perry Mason to realize where Smith is going with this. The question is will the jury buy it?
So, at long last, the final chapter has begun in the sad story of Kelsey Bransby. Even after all these months it is doubtful that anyone who loved her and grieved for her will find genuine closure now that Cole Hopper's trial has started. In the end, justice might be done in the eyes of the law, but she will still be gone. And there is no cure for that; there never will be.
The proceedings are expected to take a week or so.