NEW HANOVER COUNTY — A Wilmington woman will serve a minimum of 10 years in prison following a plea of guilty to being an accessory to murder on Thursday.
Jamie Dee Cooper, 36, pleaded guilty in New Hanover County Superior Court to charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and accessory after the fact to murder in connection with the death of 37-year-old William “Will” Elliot in February 2015, according to a notice from District Attorney Ben David.
Cooper and her co-defendant in the case, 25-year-old Adam Morton, faced charges after the victim was found on Feb. 28, 2015, at Cooper’s residence, located at 130 Gale Road.
Two investigations sparked at the same time on that date.
Cooper had first called police to the Quality Inn off Market Street at about 11 p.m. on Feb. 28, for a domestic disturbance. She reported she had been assaulted by Morton, but that he had left the hotel.
Meanwhile, detectives with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office responded to the Gale Road home after they received a report from Cooper’s brother. The brother told police that she had told him someone had been robbed and stabbed at the home.
Sheriff’s office detectives went to the trailer, which had been rented by Cooper, and found the victim dead, with multiple stab wounds. Detectives learned that, on the day prior, Cooper, Morton and Elliot went together to buy crack cocaine before returning to the home to use the drug over the course of the night.
“Cooper showered and went to bed, leaving Morton and Elliot watching television. Cooper woke up around 8 a.m., and witnessed Morton stabbing Elliot,” David said. “Cooper went back to her bedroom and Morton came to the bedroom with the victim’s keys and money and said he could now pay rent, laying $740 on the bed.”
Morton and Cooper left the residence separately; Morton drove the victim’s truck, while Cooper followed in her own car.
“Their plan was to ditch Elliot’s truck,” David said. “Morton backed the truck into a parking spot at the boat ramp by the Isabella Holmes Bridge and took the tag off of it … Detectives located the abandoned vehicle in the days following the discovery of Elliot’s body.”
Detectives interviewed drug dealers who admitted to knowing both Cooper and Morton, and selling the defendants the crack cocaine.
Back at the hotel, detectives located and seized a duffle bag Morton had dropped when he fled the area as officers arrived for Cooper’s domestic complaint call. Detectives also discovered a shoe print atop a vehicle the fleeing Morton climbed to jump a fence next to the Quality Inn.
“A shoe impression in dried blood left behind at the crime scene on Gale Road was cut out of the kitchen floor linoleum and seized by crime scene investigators,” David said. “These two shoe impressions appear to be consistent.”
Crime Scene Investigators at the murder site on Gale Road also seized other items. They included four kitchen knives with dried blood, one of which was broken at the handle “as if it had been used with force great enough to break the resin handle,” David said.
Detectives who were still searching for Morton contacted members of his family who agreed to assist in the investigation. Those family members set up a meeting with Morton in the parking lot of the Burger King on 17th Street. Morton fled from the area when he saw law enforcement, but a K-9 officer with Wilmington Police Department tracked Morton in a foot pursuit and took him into custody.
Morton was treated for minor bite wounds and then transferred to the New Hanover County Jail on March 1, 2015.
Cooper was later interviewed by detectives, during which she confessed to assisting Morton in disposing of the victim’s truck and fleeing the scene with him.
Cooper stated that she and Morton discussed burning the victim’s truck, but ended up leaving it at the bridge.
“Initially, Cooper had not informed law enforcement officers who responded to the domestic altercation at the Quality Inn of the murder when they spoke to her,” David said. “She had multiple opportunities to report the killing of Mr. Elliot to law enforcement officers, but did not do so.”
Morton pleaded guilty on Sept. 15, 2016 in New Hanover County Superior to charges of second-degree murder guilty and robbery with a dangerous weapon. He received 30 to 38 years in The North Carolina Department of Corrections.
Following her plea on Thursday, Cooper was ordered to serve 10 to 14 years in prison. She will be placed on a period of post-release supervision upon her release room prison.