Stamford stabbing suspect returns to Connecticut to face murder charge after fighting extradition
Donald Copeland, 32, made his first appearance in Stamford Superior Court Tuesday charged with the murder of Jimmy Louis, 43, of Norwalk.
It came nearly a year after Louis was stabbed to death and four months after Copeland was taken into custody in connection to the case. U.S. Marshalls arrested him in Poughkeepsie, NY on Feb. 18, but Copeland fought extradition. It took a while before a New York state court ruled in favor of sending him back to Connecticut.
On Aug. 18, Louis was discovered bleeding heavily inside his car after crashing it on Hamilton Avenue around 1 a.m.
“There’s a bar on that street and so people were coming out of the bar due to closing time and noticed this male had lost conscious. The patrons of the bar actually tried to render aid to him, removing him from the car and trying to apply towels and such to his wounds. He had numerous stab wounds,” said Sgt. Sean Boeger, of the Stamford Police Department.
Boeger said the primary crime scene was just around the corner from there on Culloden Road. He told News 12 the attack happened in the street, and DNA evidence pointed investigators to Copeland, whose family lived right there.
“Our suspect’s blood and the victim’s blood were found mixed together further into that property within a camper that the suspect was using as a temporary residence,” Boeger explained. “There was really no reasonable explanation for why.”
Copeland disappeared after the stabbing, which added to investigators’ suspicions.
“He completely ceased any pattern of his normal behavior with regard to going to work, collecting his paycheck, the people he usually spoke to, his normal routines of travel—all ceased. He went through some extreme measures to cover his tracks and remove himself from the area,” Boeger said.
He told News 12 Copeland's girlfriend was arrested on a hindering prosecution charge in connection to the case. Investigators tracked him to the Hudson River Valley Region about six months after the stabbing.
“The suspect and the victim knew each other. They appeared to be acquaintances if not friends. So, the best guess at this point is some type of fallout between the two men,” Boeger told News 12.
During Copeland's arraignment, Assistant State's Attorney Sean McGuinness pushed for bond to remain at $2 million for the murder charge.
“The state has a very strong circumstantial case against the defendant. I’ll also note, Your Honor, that the defendant fled to New York state,” McGuinness argued. “The state does believe that in addition to the seriousness of the offense, he’s also a flight risk.”
Public Defender Howard Ehring asked for bond to be lowered to $900,000 and mentioned a possible future defense in the case.
“I’m not certain of the direction we’ll be going in. But there may be basis for self-dense. However, it’s certainly something the court considers in setting bond,” Ehring said.
Judge Kevin Randolph kept bond at $2 million. Copeland is also charged with possession of a controlled substance on an unrelated warrant. Randolph set bond for that charge at $1,000.
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