Twenty years ago, Linda Cooney shot her husband, alleging that it was in self defense. She was found not guilty by a jury.
On July 28, 2011, she called Las Vegas: “My son – my son has a gunshot wound to the head,” Linda Cooney said, but she didn’t explain what happened.
When police arrived at the home they found 30-year-old Kevin in a pool of his own blood. He was near death while being rushed to the hospital but somehow managed to survive. He’s now partially paralyzed from the near-lethal shot to the neck.
When Linda, 63, was questioned by police about what happened while she was alone with Kevin, she kept saying, “I don’t know.” It finally turned out that she had shot her own son with the same gun she’d used 20 years earlier to kill her own husband.
Her marriage to husband Jim Cooney started off normal: She was an aspiring socialite in Florida and he was a popular attorney. They had two sons, Kevin and Christopher. Soon after the children were born, however, Linda claimed her husband was abusive. It was Jim who filed for divorce. After the divorce, the fighting continued, with Linda saying she wanted more money and Jim complaining that she wouldn’t let him see the kids unless he gave it to her.
On 7 February 1992, Jim went to Linda’s house. He had a court order to take the boys for a weekend visit. That’s when Linda shot him. Afterwards, she called 911. “I shot at him,” she cried. “I don’t know if I got him or not.”
Jim’s body was found with multiple gun shot wounds. He had also died with a knife in his hand, which Linda insisted he was trying to attack her with. There were, however, no defense wounds on Linda’s body.
Linda was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, but the jury decided she wasn’t guilty.
What was strange about the trial was that Kevin, then 11-years-old, was the main witness. He said he’d been hiding in a cupboard and was peeking at his parents fighting and was very afraid. Before the trial, he said he’d seen nothing in his father’s hand (the knife) but on trial, he said he saw something glinting in his hand.
The prosecution and even the police believed Linda had planted the gun in her ex-husband’s hand. To make matters worse, she’d also called a lawyer before contacting the police.
Many people believed Linda had gotten away with murder with her not-guilty verdict, so she moved with her two boys to Las Vegas.
After Kevin was shot 20 years later, Linda told police that the two were arguing the night before about his girlfriend Katrina. Linda said she’d found him in the morning in his own blood and suggested that he’d tried to commit suicide. Evidence, however, pointed to the fact that Linda had waited 16 minutes before calling police. She’d first called Christopher, the younger son, who was a policeman.
When Kevin woke up three days later he told nurses something very shocking: “I’m afraid of Mom,” he said. “Mom shot me.”
After Linda spent all of the million-dollar life insurance left to the children by her dead ex-husband, she had become reliant on her sons’ income. She felt threatened by Katrina, Kevin’s girlfriend, because she did not want him leaving home. Investigators believe Kevin had told Linda he was moving out before she shot him.
After Linda was arrested, Kevin changed his mind and said he’d attacked his mother before she shot him. Christopher, the younger brother, also testified that it was Kevin who was ‘hostile’ and that he “was in a full-blown rage and he struck [Linda]. He was threatening to kill her.”
Even though both Kevin and Christopher told the jury that it was Kevin who’d attacked Linda, 20 witnesses came forward explaining how controlling Linda was. They also said the woman shot her son on purpose. They also said that Kevin was very afraid. The most important testimony came from Katrina, by then the ex-girlfriend of Kevin, who said he’d told her in hospital that he’d been sitting down when he was shot. The gunshot wound only fit this scenario.
Not only was Linda found guilty of shooting Kevin but was also convicted of stalking his then-girlfriend Katrina.
After the conviction was handed down, Linda said “I had done my best to raise, educate and protect my sons as a single mother. Unfortunately, my son, Kevin, carried with him an anger and rage disorder that he must have inherited from his father. What happened was his fault. It was an accident.”
She was sentenced 13 to 41 years in prison. Both of her sons continue to stand by her and still say she’s not guilty. They are trying to get her out of prison today.
Who do you believe was at fault? We want to hear from you.