Accused ‘can’t recall’ shooting wife

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The defense attorney for accused murderer Bobby Wayne Copeland said Monday that his client has no memory of shooting his wife of 13 years, Dorothy, in July 2009.

Joe Sawyer of Coffee County told jurors during opening arguments that Copeland “had no recollection of the day before (the shooting); or the day of; up to the point when he woke up in a hospital with an IV in his arm.”

But the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Grace Jeter described Copeland as a “greedy, selfish man” who killed his wife “when she stood up for herself.”

“Dorothy Cravey Copeland was a woman who was always doing things for other people,” Jeter said. “The state will show how (the couple) started fighting about Dorothy spending money on her brother and that the last thing he said to family was, ‘I just don’t know what I’m going to do. Ain’t got nobody to take care of me.’”

The state also maintains the shooting occurred when Mr. Copeland decided to move back to Dothan and the victim decided to stay in Covington County – a fact disputed by the defense, who stated that the couple had jointly decided to move back Dothan because of “family squabbles.” Testimony from Mrs. Copeland’s daughter, Janie Sasser, and nephew, Ashley Cravey, however, stated otherwise.

Jeter said testimony also will prove that Mrs. Copeland was shot once in the head with a .38-special revolver while she was bent over cleaning her teeth and that two bullets matching the gun were found in Copeland’s pocket after the shooting.

“What happened was unfortunate,” Sawyer told jurors. “(The couple) had fussed a bit in that afternoon and that keyed him up, but (Mr. Copeland) is not a violent man. He is a good man, who loved his wife, but he has no recollection of what happened.”

Sasser, who became visibly upset when a photo of her and her mother was entered into evidence, testified she drove her stepfather to the North Creek Store, where he purchased a 12-pack of beer. She said he was angry and upset over the events about the purchase.

She said her mother called her just before 7 p.m. the night before the shooting and spoke about the alleged confrontation. It was the last time she spoke with her.

“(Mrs. Copeland) said (it) had hit the fan,” Sasser said. “She said he was going back to Dothan. She said, ‘If he wants to go, I’ll take him.’”

Cravey, who was the first person on the scene after the shooting, testified that earlier that afternoon, he and his brother had a conversation with Copeland.

“He was upset, frustrated and talking about how he couldn’t stay here,” Cravey said. “He’d been drinking. We tried to reason with him, about not making a rash decision.”

On the morning of the shooting, Cravey said he arrived to find Mr. Copeland sitting in a rocking chair, smoking. He said Copeland was not crying, nor did he appear to have been crying.

“He met me at the entryway and said, ‘Go check on Dorothy,’” Cravey said. “He was not distraught. He was high-strung, but not crying.”

Cravey said he then found Mrs. Copeland dead on the bedroom floor.

The trial will resume today at 9 a.m.