Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Kidnapping - Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: July 18, 1993
Date of birth: November 26, 1970
Victim profile: Latasha Goodman, 6
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Monmouth County, Nueva Jersey, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on May 17, 1995. Commuted to life in prison

David Cooper lured a six-year-old girl out of a backyard and took her to an area underneath the porch of an abandoned house where he lived. While the victim's family members looked for her and called out her name, Cooper sexually assaulted and fatally strangled her.

Police found her body several hours later. She was under the porch, with her shirt pulled up and her panties at her ankles. The sexual assault caused her to bleed, and to suffer numerous internal injuries to her vaginal canal and cervix, as well as to her anal canal. The medical examiner concluded that she had been strangled for four to six minutes.

Cooper claimed that he was drunk during the attack, and that her death was accidental. He had prior convictions for trespassing and a drug offense, and juvenile convictions for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. He was on parole at the time of the murder. He claimed that he drank daily and used marijuana often, but did not present evidence of his alleged alcoholism or intoxication at his penalty phase.

During his childhood, Cooper had been abused, neglected, and exposed to drugs, alcohol, and violence. He was placed in numerous foster homes, and did not have a relationship with his mother, who drank heavily when pregnant with Cooper.

The jury found the c(4)(f) (escape detection) and c(4)(g) (contemporaneous felony) aggravating factors, and varying numbers of jurors found several c(5)(h) (catchall) factors.

The jury concluded that the aggravating factors outweighed the mitigating factors; therefore, the defendant was sentenced to death. He also received an aggregate noncapital sentence of seventy years with a thirty- five-year parole disqualifier.


David Cooper

On July 18, 1993, after church, Latasha Goodman and her family had sunday dinner at the parish hall in Asbury Park, because they were too poor to have a good dinner. It was a warm summer afternoon.

After dinner, the family visited with relatives. While the adults sat on the front porch, the children played in the fenced-in back yard. A man, stood in the shrubs and watched the children at play for a while. He then approached the children asking would one of them like a quarter? Six year old Latasha said she would go with the defendant.

He lifted her over the fence and led her away by the hand. Her seven year old cousin was yelling "Don't go Tasha, you are going to get kidnapped". The cousin immediately ran around to the front porch and a search was instigated. The family called the police, and neighbors were asked to help find the child.

Several hours later the police found the body of the child under a porch of an abandoned building. The defendant had left her body naked from the chest down, one shoe off, in the rubble of the porch. Her vaginal area was exposed and covered in blood. There were no signs of life. Her killer had walked off after boarding up the entrance to the underside of the porch.

The defendant, David Cooper, was later identified after the police found a wallet in a gym bag at the scene. Physical evidence, as well as Cooper’s confession, revealed that he raped the little girl both vaginally and anally, using a condom so that he would not leave any evidence in or on the body. Her autopsy indicated that she was manually strangled. DNA analysis further tied Cooper to the murder.

David Cooper was found guilty, and given the death penalty, by a jury in 1995. He remains on death row.


Man Guilty in Murder of Girl, 6

The New York Times

May 3, 1995

A jury deliberated for less than two hours yesterday before convicting David Cooper, 23, of raping and murdering 6-year-old Latasha Goodman under the porch of an abandoned house in Asbury Park in 1993.

Mr. Cooper's lawyer had acknowledged that his client killed the girl but argued that it was an accident. An assistant prosecutor, Elaine A. Leschot, told the jury that Mr. Cooper had murdered the girl on purpose, after enticing her from her aunt's backyard with the promise of ice cream and candy and then taking her under the porch where no one could see them.

"When," Ms. Leschot demanded, "does the accident start?"

The penalty phase of the trial will begin on Monday. The jury will decide whether to impose a death sentence or a life term with a minimum of 30 years in prison before parole.


Death Sentence for Child Killer

The New York Times

May 18, 1995

David Cooper deserves to die, a jury said yesterday, for killing 6-year-old Latasha Goodman.

The girl was raped and strangled after being abducted July 18, 1993, from her aunt's fenced-in yard in Asbury Park.

In requesting the death penalty for Mr. Cooper, the Prosecutor, Elaine Leschot, said: "He chose the most personal, intensely personal, up-close contact you can get to commit murder. He used his hands to control, be in total control of a 6-year-old helpless victim."


David Cooper



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