The decision may already be in the hands of the jury as I type. According to the Norman Transcript's Arianna Pickard, defense testimony was scheduled to wrap up in the trial of Cole Dean Hopper this morning.
Pickard writes that forensic pathologist, Chai Choi testified yesterday the bullet that killed Kelsey Bransby entered her head just below her left eyebrow at about a 10 degree angle upward. It then tracked 45 degrees to the right, bounced off the inside of her skull near her right ear and ended up in the center of the back of her head. Choi said the slug knocked Ms. Bransby unconscious, but she was able to continue breathing because it missed the center of the brain.
The wound was so devastating that an Emergency Room physician who treated her told the court Bransby would have died, even if she had received immediate medical attention. I suppose that could somehow help Cole Hopper's defense, although I'm not sure why. His attorney can at least look at the jury and say, "See, there was nothing my client could do." Well except for the decent thing, which would have been to call for help immediately rather than leaving a person, who has been described as one of his best friends, laying on the floor bleeding with a bullet in her head.
Pickard reports that Choi also testified that gun powder stippling on Bransby's skin indicated that while the gun was not directly touching her, the fatal shot came from close range.
What probably didn't help Hopper's case was a video of a November 2011 interview he gave detective Tyler Larson which was played for the court. Pickard writes that in it Hopper says the shooter was probably one of the many people Bransby had stolen drugs from. Larson went so far as to read off each contact from Kelsey Bransby's phone while Hopper identified those he said she'd ripped off. Pickard writes that the total was close to 20. I will admit I'm not familiar with the number of people selling meth and the like in this burg, however this isn't LA, or Chicago. One would think that burning 20 different people in the Oklahoma City drug trade would pretty well make you persona non grata when it comes to receiving merchandise up front, something Danielle Cooley previously testified, Ms. Bransby had just done.
Larson said that over several months he checked out each of the people named by Hopper, but by the time it was over all the evidence was pointing toward the defendant.
According to Pickard a second video was played that showed an interview with the suspect the following May. In it Larson was closing in, telling Hopper he didn't consider him, "a cold blooded killer," and that things would go better for him if he'd just tell the detective what happened. Hopper initially stuck to his story that he wasn't there when the shooting occurred. When it became obvious to him that Larson wasn't buying it any longer, Cole Hopper lawyered up and the interview ended. Shortly after that he was arrested and initially charged with second degree murder.
There was probably more than just a single thing that sent Kelsey Bransby, Danielle Cooley, and Cole Hopper down the trail that ended in that south side OKC apartment nearly two years ago. We could speculate about some sort of trauma, some sort of pain that the drugs were supposed to mask, or that it could have started out simply as the ultimate thrill ride--one that at some point went terribly out of control. No, the causes really don't matter now. All we are left with are the results. And no matter what the jury decides today, tonight, or tomorrow they aren't pretty.
As the man says, "Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you."