Rights to a speedy trial violated for city man

LISBON, Ohio – Charges have been dismissed against Vonlie W. Cooper, after Columbiana County Common Pleas Judge C. Ashley Pike ruled last week Cooper’s rights to a speedy trial were violated.

Cooper, 25, Weirton, was charged with failure to comply with a signal of a police officer and two counts of possession of drugs. He reportedly was fleeing from authorities two years ago when he was shot in the foot by a highway patrol trooper.

Two hearings were held before Pike last month on a motion, filed by Cooper’s defense attorney James Hartford, to dismiss the charges. In his ruling, Pike noted the disputed time frame in Cooper’s case seemed to be between April 19, 2012, and Sept. 19, 2013.

According to a timeline laid out by Pike, Cooper was under house arrest in West Virginia throughout half of 2012, and it was during that time that Columbiana County sheriff’s deputies were unable to find Cooper because they were looking for him in correctional facilities. In February 2013, deputies learned Cooper was on house arrest and indicated they planned to extradite him, but they decided to wait after learning Cooper had recently undergone surgery.

However, while deputies were waiting, Cooper reportedly cut off his house arrest bracelet and ran from police in West Virginia on April 12, 2013.

While Cooper was bound over to the grand jury on March 15, 2012, a superseding indictment, which added the two drug charges to the original failure to comply charge, was not served to him until Sept. 19, 2013. By then, Pike indicates, the speedy trial limit had already expired.