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Federal jury finds 2 men guilty in 2016 shooting death of drug informant

by Dale Ellis | September 21, 2021 at 9:02 p.m.
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After just over six hours of deliberation, a federal jury in Little Rock convicted two men of conspiring to kill a federal witness.

Donald Smith, 37, of Malvern and Samuel Sherman, 38, of Batesville were on trial on several charges in the 2016 shooting death of 44-year-old Suzen Cooper.

A 2019 indictment charged the men with conspiracy to commit witness tampering causing death. In addition, the indictment charged Smith with killing Cooper to prevent her from testifying against Sherman.

It also accused Smith and Sherman of conspiring between January 2007 and November 2016 to possess with the intent to distribute, and distributing, methamphetamine and cocaine, and of brandishing a firearm — a .22-caliber gun — in relation to a drug-trafficking crime that led to murder.

In summing up the government’s case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anne Garder outlined a flurry of phone calls and texts between Racheal Cooper, Suzen Cooper’s former sister-in-law; Smith; Sherman; and others in the overnight hours of Sept. 26 and 27, 2016, the night Suzen Cooper was shot to death and buried in a field along Grigsby Ford Road just outside of Malvern.

She said Smith had been texting on his phone right up until the moment he pulled out a .22 caliber pistol and shot Suzen Cooper four times in the back and once in the head, killing her.

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