A police officer discovered the body of an Aurora woman under a pile of clothes in her apartment, he testified today during the trial of the woman’s boyfriend, who is accused of strangling her to death.
Authorities allege Delbert K. Cooper, 33, killed Rennee Ann Perry, 21, in her apartment in the 900 block of Second Avenue sometime on Dec. 19-20, 2011, before concealing her body with clothing. Testimony in Cooper’s trial on first-degree murder charges began Tuesday in Kane County court in St. Charles.
Aurora police officer Jason Sheldon was the trial’s first witness Tuesday and he described finding Perry in the bedroom after Perry’s mother had called police to request a well-being check. He described finding Perry on the floor, with clothing tightly tucked around her head and torso and other clothing piled atop.
Sheldon said he removed the clothing around her head to check for signs of life, but Perry’s body was cold and she was obviously dead.
Perry’s mother, Yvette Strawder, took the stand and said she had last seen her daughter two days before she was found dead, when she, Perry and Cooper had gone grocery shopping together. Strawder said she had been trying without success to call her daughter for two days before she contacted police.
Perry and Cooper had been in a relationship for three or four years, Strawder said.
Prosecutors alleged that Cooper, who is the father of Perry’s two children, beat and strangled her in an unprovoked attack. But Cooper’s attorney, Herb Hill, told jurors that Cooper and Perry had fought and that Perry had armed herself with a knife. Cooper choked her to death as he tried to disarm her and defend himself, Hill said.
The couple argued frequently over Cooper’s crack cocaine use and that was the topic that sparked their fatal encounter, according to the defense attorney.
“It’s because of the insidiousness of that drug that we’re here today,” Hill said.
The jury trial before Judge Clint Hull is expected to last about a week.