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Jury convicts Hollis man of killing newlywed bride

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A Queens jury took just four hours last week to convict a Hollis man in the murder of his bride just a month after they were married.

Billy Cooper, 30, of 100-50 202nd St., was found guilty in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens of killing his 22-year-old wife, Kimberly John, outside her Holliswood co-op building in March 2001, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Cooper was convicted of murder Feb. 4 for telling a friend to shoot John as she got out of her car in front of her apartment complex at Francis Lewis Boulevard and 204th Street, Brown said. Cooper watched from a nearby van as the friend, Lenwood “Smoke” Evans, allegedly shot John twice in the head and once in the chest, according to trial testimony.

Cooper faces 25 years to life in prison and was scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Richard Buchter March 4, the DA said.

“The defendant has been held accountable and will be severely punished for his role in the senseless murder of his wife after only five weeks of marriage,” Brown said. “I hope that the family of Ms. John receives a measure of solace knowing that justice has been done.”

Cooper, 31, a former home health aide, and John, a customer service representative with Verizon, were married Feb. 5, 2001, but the relationship quickly fell apart and John kicked Cooper out of her co-op apartment 10 days after the wedding, according to trial testimony.

Prosecutors said Cooper was enraged that John threw him out and refused to take him back.

In the weeks that followed, John tried to avoid Cooper, but he persisted in calling her and even threatened her a number of times, Assistant District Attorney Jack Warsawsky said during the trial.

On March 14, 2001, Cooper, Evans and a third friend, Frederick Hamlet, convinced John to meet them outside her building. When she pulled into the parking lot, Evans got out of the van the three were waiting in and allegedly shot her, Brown said.

Evans, of Springfield Gardens, was also charged in the murder and was due back in court Feb. 23, said a spokeswoman for the DA.

Hamlet pleaded guilty in July to tampering with evidence in the case and was awaiting sentencing.

During his trial, Cooper offered a different scenario, saying that John was acting as a courier between Evans and a drug dealer in Jamaica. When John arrived without the drugs she was supposed to have or the money, Evans allegedly shot her, Cooper testified.

John’s family, who sat through the trial, discounted Cooper’s story as false.

The four-week trial closed Feb. 3, and the jury of six men and six women deliberated for four hours Feb. 4 before returning the guilty verdict, Brown said.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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