A prison guard testified Wednesday at Adrian Cooper’s assault trial that he saw the former University of Oklahoma football player hit another inmate twice in the face with a fist.
The second time, the other man was up against a wall, sliding to the ground, said Jonathan Potts, a correctional officer at the El Reno federal prison camp.
The trial began Wednesday with a prosecutor telling jurors, "This is a simple case.”
A defense attorney said Cooper was set up.
Cooper admits he hit Ramiro P. Valdez the evening of Jan. 11. Cooper’s attorney, Stephen Jones, said in an opening statement that Valdez struck first.
Valdez, a drug trafficker, was willing to take a beating because he believed his injuries would get him released from prison early, the defense attorney said. Valdez chose to start the fight close to a guard and other inmates where he knew he would be "in danger for only a second,” Jones said.
The key witness, Potts, said he did not see how the disturbance began. But the guard insisted he thought at the time it was an assault not a fight.
Prisoners have duties
Cooper, 40, is on trial in federal court in Oklahoma City.
Cooper was ordered to prison in 2006 for cheating clients out of almost $1 million while he was a stockbroker. He was sentenced to serve six years and three months after pleading guilty to securities fraud and money laundering.
Jurors were told Cooper played at OU and in the National Football League.
Prosecutor Arvo Mikkanen told jurors Cooper deliberately struck the other man because he was angry Valdez wouldn’t drive him somewhere. Inmates at the minimum-security camp do farm work and have other tasks, and Valdez had permission to drive.
The assistant U.S. attorney told jurors Valdez was 100 pounds lighter than Cooper, 20 years older and almost a foot smaller. The prosecutor said Valdez suffered a broken leg, a concussion, a fractured nose, a knee injury and double vision.
The camp’s farm supervisor testified he got Cooper and Valdez together in a pickup before the incident after hearing they didn’t get along. The supervisor, David Barnett, said he thought they had worked things out.