UPDATED: Jury Seated for Trial of Felon Accused of Killing Girlfriend

City News Service Pristine Villarreal

BANNING (CNS) – Jury selection began Thursday in the trial of a 40-year- old felon accused of chasing down and shooting his roommate during an altercation that erupted over money at their Hemet apartment.

Dante Trimell Cooper was arrested in March 2022 after the alleged attack in the 300 block of West Kimball Avenue, near State Street.

Cooper is charged with attempted murder, being a felon in possession of a loaded gun and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

After ruling on pretrial motions, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Rene Navarro summoned several panels of prospective jurors to the Banning Justice Center Thursday for screening as to their availability and qualifications. The judge ordered additional prospects to the courthouse Friday, when jury selection will resume.

Opening statements in the trial are expected early next week. Cooper is being held on $1 million bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.

According to Hemet police Lt. Nathan Miller, about 4:30 p.m. March 2, 2022, Cooper was involved in a heated exchange with his roommate, identified only as a 42-year-old man with the initials “J.M.,” at their Kimball Avenue apartment.

Miller said the argument, connected to cost sharing, escalated into a fight, and the roommate “hit (the defendant) in the face and head and began running.”

“(Cooper) chased after the man and then shot him several times,” the lieutenant alleged.

Patrol officers reached the location within a couple of minutes and found the victim wounded but conscious, according to Miller.

He said the man pointed out Cooper, who was nearby, and the defendant was taken into custody without a struggle.

The victim underwent surgery at a regional trauma center and has since recovered.

Cooper was treated for his injuries and transported to jail.

Court records show that he has a prior conviction in 2002 out of San Diego County for voluntary manslaughter with a firearm. There was no mention of how much time he served in state prison for the felony.

Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.

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