Janesville man found guilty of trying to kill witness
WAUKESHA—A jury late Monday found a Janesville man guilty of attempting to kill a witness in his Rock County drug case outside a Waukesha County home in November 2011.
Facing the possibility of more than 40 years in prison, Demetrius Cooper is set for sentencing Nov. 11 by Waukesha County Judge Michael Bohren. Sentencing will be exactly two years after the shooting in the town of Ottawa.
Cooper, 32, was returned to state prison for other crimes after the trial.
A jury of six men and six women took about 4 1/2 hours to reach their verdicts. Jurors found Cooper guilty of the attempted first-degree intentional homicide of Aaron Kletzke; first degree reckless endangerment of Katie Kletzke; and intimidation of a witness, Aaron Kletzke, with force or violence. All are felony convictions.
Cooper buried his head in his hands as Bohren read the verdicts.
The attempted intentional homicide charge carries a prison term of up to 40 years with 20 years of extended supervision. The endangerment charge carries a prison term of up to seven years with five years of extended supervision and the intimidation charge carries a prison term of up to five years with five years of extended supervision.
Closing arguments in the five-day trial centered on the credibility of witnesses who testified Cooper had told them of his intent to shoot Aaron Kletzke, a confidential informant for the Janesville Police Department, in a case that alleged Cooper was delivering heroin.
Although there was no physical evidence such as fingerprints, DNA and no solid witness identification linking Cooper to the three gunshots that were fired at Aaron and Katie Kletzke, prosecutors made an effective case against Cooper, Bohren said after reading the verdicts.
“This was a strong case tied together by the witnesses,” Bohren said in referring to the attempted homicide. “It was an overwhelming verdict based on the evidence.”
Assistant District Attorney Susan Opper said the defendant's motive was stated in a letter Cooper had written to a colleague linked to the case: “no witness, no trial.”
Opper said Katie Kletzke just happened to be in the way when Cooper fired on the couple. Three shell casings were found about 130 feet from the home, according to court testimony. None of the bullets struck their target.
“Just because he's a bad shot doesn't mean he (Copper) didn't want them dead,” Opper said. “It means that he's a bad shot.”
One shot flew over the house, according to testimony.
Defense attorney Michael Holzman in his closing statement called the state's witnesses “liars, drug dealers and animals.”
Holzman said Cooper was railroaded by the state's witness who likely was the shooter himself, and authorities “made a deal with the wrong man.”
As for the shooting incident, Holzman said: “That was more than being a bad shot, that was not intending to kill anyone.”