Port Angeles man faces Friday arraignment on assault DV charges

PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man with a previous second-degree attempted murder conviction faces an arraignment Friday in Clallam County Superior Court on assault and harassment charges.

Michael D. Cooper Jr., 51, remained in Clallam County jail in lieu of $50,000 bail for investigation of two counts of second-degree assault-domestic violence and one count of felony harassment.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Simon Barnhart reduced Cooper’s bail from $100,000 to $50,000 upon request of public defender Harry Gasnick, who noted Cooper had been declared indigent.

Cooper was arrested Jan. 2 on a warrant issued Sept. 7 by Clallam County Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson.

He was charged Sept. 7 in Clallam County Superior Court with one count of second-degree assault — strangulation, with a special allegation of domestic violence, one count of second-degree assault — deadly weapon, with a special allegation of domestic violence, and one count of felony harassment — threats to kill, with a special allegation of domestic violence.

The assault charges are Class B felonies, punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine plus restitution and assessments. The harassment charge is a Class C felony, punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine plus restitution and assessments.

If Cooper is convicted on one or both of the assault charges, that would count as a “strike” under Washington’s “three strikes, you’re out” law.

Initiative 593 was passed by voters in November 1993. It mandates life without parole for defendants convicted of one of 42 qualifying felonies for the third time. The convictions must be separate, so a crime spree or multiple convictions at one time do not qualify.

According to the probable cause statement filed Sept. 7, Cooper’s alleged victim flagged down a sheriff deputy’s patrol car at 7 a.m. Aug. 8 at the intersection of Lower Elwha Road and Kacee Way and said she had been assaulted by her boyfriend, Michael Cooper.

She told a Port Angeles police officer in a statement that Cooper had kicked her in the ribs and back of the head and hit her in the leg several times with a hatchet, the probable cause statement said. The alleged victim also said when Cooper pulled out the hatchet, he said he was going to kill her, according to the probable cause statement.

Cooper also dumped lamp oil on the alleged victim, said he was going to set her on fire, then strangled her by putting his right hand on her neck and kneeling on her neck, the statement said.

On May 8, 1995, Cooper pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree burglary and one count of first-degree attempted robbery. He also entered an Alford plea to one count of second-degree attempted murder, which means he did not admit guilt but conceded that the prosecution had enough evidence to get a conviction. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

In that case, Cooper and another man allegedly entered a Sequim woman’s home and Cooper pulled out two guns and shot five times at the woman as she fled.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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