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West Virginia judge denies reduced sentence in elder abuse death case

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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) – A West Virginia judge has doubled down on the 40-year sentence he gave a man in the fatal beating of an incapacitated 73-year-old man who was under his care. News outlets report Judge Christopher D. Chiles denied 32-year-old Rocco Wayne Cooper’s request for a reduced sentence Friday.

Cooper previously entered a Kennedy plea to a charge of second-degree murder in the 2016 death of John Baxter Hysell. A Kennedy plea allows the defendant to accept punishment for a crime, but not admit guilt. Prosecutors say Cooper beat Hysell, who later died in a hospital. Cooper and 29-year-old Mary Judd-Cooper were Hysell’s caretakers. It’s unclear how the two were related to Hysell or to each other.

Judd-Cooper is serving two to 10 years in prison.

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