Tot called 911 to slaying scene, cop testifies

By  | 

FORT MYERS, Florida (AP) -- A deputy who responded to a 911 call three years ago described finding a 2-year-old boy holding a phone as his parents lay brutally slain upstairs as the trial for the man accused of killing the couple began Friday.

Fred Dewitt Cooper Jr., 30, has been charged with armed burglary and two counts of first-degree murder in the Christmastime deaths of Steven and Michelle Andrews.

She had been beaten and strangled. Her husband was shot in the head.

Cooper has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Cooper could face life in prison or death.

The Andrews' deaths captivated many because their little boy's voice could be heard calling out to his mom on the 911 tape. Prosecutors played the emergency call and recounted the scene a sheriff's deputy discovered December 27, 2005.

Deputy Tracie Lodato knocked on the Andrews' front door and didn't get an answer. She was about to go to the backyard when the boy appeared, a phone in hand, Assistant State Attorney Anthony Kunasek said.

He pointed upstairs, and when they reached the top of the stairs, Lodato saw one of the mother's feet through a doorway and told the boy to hurry. "He jumped into my arms," Lodato said.

Prosecutors said witnesses, DNA and other evidence will show that Cooper was responsible for the crimes. They said Cooper's girlfriend was having an affair with Steven Andrews. Prosecutors said Cooper's girlfriend had told him their relationship was over.

Deputy Public Defender Ken Garber said Cooper didn't know about the affair and that the bruised knuckle and scratches detectives saw on Cooper's arm when they interviewed him were common injuries for a motorcycle mechanic.

Several witnesses reported seeing a man matching Cooper's description the night before the couple was discovered and again the next morning. In addition, DNA found under one of Michelle Andrews' fingernails matched with Cooper's.