Immediately after a masked gunman shot her husband inside their Fawn Grove residence, Connie Cooper reached into her home office, grabbed a stapler and threw it at the intruder’s head.
“I wished it had been an axe,” she said.
Cooper testified Tuesday at a habeas corpus hearing for Bradford S. Holup, a Maryland man accused in the near fatal home invasion around 1:30 a.m. Oct. 20, 2011.
Holup, 50, is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary and theft. He is being held on $1 million bail but would not be released if he could post that amount.
Holup is serving a life without parole sentence in Maryland for a similar home invasion and attempted homicide.
According to a Nov. 20, 2012 Baltimore Sun story, four months after the Fawn Grove home invasion, Holup, wearing a ski mask, broke into the West Towson home of actor George Stover, shot him in the neck and attempted to steal his Cadillac.
Holup pleaded guilty to that attempted homicide charge.
But despite a confession to shooting William Cooper and stealing Connie Cooper’s car, Holup has opted to go trial on the York County charges.
Connie Cooper was the only witness called at Tuesday’s abbreviated hearing. The hearing resumes on July 8 with the testimony of two police officers.
Connie did not get a good look at the masked man who broke in through a door while she and her husband, Bill, were upstairs. Bill was sleeping in their bedroom and Connie, working in her home office, thought the noises she heard downstairs were her small dogs going in and out the dog door.
Suddenly, there was a man standing just outside her office door. He was wearing a ski mask and holding a gun.
Connie said his eyes “had no life to them” and he spoke in a “soft, monotone voice.”
“There was no anger, no rush,” she said.
“He said, ‘Shh.’ I called for Bill. He said, ‘Shh.’ I called for Bill again,” she said.
The man asked her if she had any guns in the house.
“I fibbed and said ‘Yes.’” Connie said. “I though maybe that would make him re-think things.”
Instead, the man asked, “Where?” and when Connie hesitated, he pointed questioningly to an adjacent bedroom door.
Connie doesn’t know who opened the bedroom door but it crashed open, knocking down a picture. She heard Bill say, “What the …?”
Connie saw her 6-foot-2 husband grab the smaller man by the shoulders and begin to manhandle him toward the stairs. Bill spun the intruder around and began to push him down the steps.
“That’s when the gun went off,” Connie said.
Bill slumped to the floor and tumbled down the stairs. Connie thought he was dead. Her focus was on her husband and she doesn’t know how the masked man got downstairs on the other side of her husband’s body.
But that’s when she threw the stapler. She doesn’t know if her aim was true, but the intruder left.
Connie checked on Bill and heard him moan.
And the intruder was back.
Connie ran to her office, slammed and locked the door and called 911. She doesn’t know if anyone answered, she just shouted her address.
The gunman came through the door. He calmly took the phone and asked for her car keys.
Connie thought she had left her purse downstairs. The gunman followed her downstairs. She then realized her purse was in the office. The gunman followed her back upstairs.
“We had to keep stepping over Bill,” she said.
Connie was shaking so much she couldn’t fish her keys out of the purse. She went to the bathroom sink and dumped the contents. The keys to her 2000 Elantra fell out on top.
The intruder took the keys and left.
Bill was airlifted to the York Hospital trauma center where he was placed on life support. He was there for a month. Connie said he fought off “infection after infection” and suffered an aneurysm.
During his recovery, Bill’s doctors diagnosed him with cancer. He died on Valentine’s Day this year at age 67.
With information from an informant, police arrested and charged 17-year-old Mason Michael Carter. Carter, who denied any involvement, remained in prison for almost eight months.
During that time, Connie identified him at a hearing as the masked intruder.
“It was the same droopy eyes,” she said.
But police turned their attention to Holup in June 2012, when Holup, being held in connection with the Stover shooting, reportedly confessed to the Cooper shooting.
Tuesday, Holup’s court-appointed attorney, George Margetas, confirmed that Holup “did make statements to police.” Margetas would not agree that it was a confession.
Chief Deputy Prosecutor Tim Barker said, should the case survive the habeas corpus challenge, he is ready to prosecute Holup in the first week of the August trial term.
Carter was released from prison in last June.