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UPDATE: Jury finds Cosper guilty of 1st degree felony murder

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - A jury convicted Ronald Cosper, 20, of killing a man during an armed robbery in 2012 after two days of deliberations.

Steve Mosley, 38, died after he was shot three times at his home on Hawthorne St. in Chattanooga.

It was an emotional courtroom when Cosper was found guilty of felony first degree murder and attempt to commit especially aggravated robbery.

Before any jury goes to deliberate, the judge always warns family members they can't act out or cause a disturbance -- regardless of what the jury's decision is. But three of Cosper's family members ignored those rules, and one found herself behind bars.

"Somebody got up and hit the door. I heard the F-word used," Judge Barry Steelman said during a hearing for Cosper's family members held in contempt of court.

After the guilty verdict came down, two of Cosper's family members ended up in handcuffs.

"We expected the worst, but we didn't want it to happen," Ashley Harris Foster told Steelman, apologizing for her behavior.

Foster and Corchea Stamper, Cosper's cousin, were held in contempt of court after the outbursts.

"I didn't know I would come out like that," Stamper told Steelman before he sent her to jail for five days.

During Stamper's hearing, another family member was kicked out for shushing the judge.

"I have no excuse," Stamper said.

"It's not about me, it's about the (judicial) process," Steelman replied.

It took two days of deliberating for the jury of 12 to reach a unanimous verdict.

Prosecutor Lance Pope said trying murder cases isn't easy. Cosper was just 18 when he was charged with killing Mosley.

"It's important the jury not only consider his age, but also consider his behavior, and see he acted in a very adult manner. They treated him appropriately through the verdict," Pope said.

Cosper's attorney, Andrew Basler, said he will likely file a motion for a new trial.

"I just told him we'd take it day by day from here," Basler said. "I'll be out to see him, and we'll figure out where we're going to go."

Cosper was automatically sentenced to life in prison. His sentencing hearing is set in June.

A Hamilton County jury has found Ronald Cosper guilty of first degree felony murder and guilty of attempt to commit especially aggravated robbery.

The verdict came Monday morning after the jury began deliberations Friday afternoon.

After the sentence was read, several supporters of Cosper reacted loudly and were later taken into custody for contempt. 

PREVIOUS STORY: No verdict has been reached in the trial of Ronald Cosper.  The jury will resume deliberations Monday morning.

DAY 4: The fate of Ronald Cosper is in the hands of a jury.

The 20-year old is accused of shooting and killing Steve Mosley, 38, during an armed robbery. Police say the motive was stealing cash and marijuana.

After hearing three full days of evidence and testimony, the jury began deliberations at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

There were several key pieces of forensic evidence in the case, like Cosper's fingerprints on the front door of Mosley's home on Hawthorne St. There was also gunshot residue on the shorts Cosper was wearing.

Witnesses said they saw Cosper in Mosley's Avondale neighborhood before shots rang out. However, Cosper chose not to testify.

"He no longer sits here an innocent man," Asst. DA Cameron Williams said during closing arguments. "He's a murderer. You're sitting in the same room as a murderer."

Defense attorney Andrew Basler hammered hard against the state's star witness, co-defendant Dustin Hayes.

Hayes said drove with Cosper and Devante "White Chalk" Stoudemire to the neighborhood.

Hayes also led police to three spent .32 caliber shell casings that were dropped in a storm drain. Mosley was shot three times with a .32 caliber gun.

In exchange for a truthful testimony, Hayes' murder charge was dropped. He's currently serving a six-year sentence as part of his plea deal.

Basler said Cosper was blamed.

"He was the only suspect," Basler said during his closing argument. "So here the police are -- they have his fingerprints, but that's all."

If convicted, Cosper faces life in prison.

DAY 3: Testimony continued in Ronald Cosper's murder trial on Thursday. Jurors will begin deliberating on Friday.

A gunshot residue expert from the TBI tested clothes from all 3 co-defendants in this case.

They didn't find anything on Devante Stoudemire or Dustin Hayes, but gunshot residue was found on the shorts Cosper was wearing.

It tested positive in the left front part of the shorts, which includes the pocket area.

"You don't have to be the shooter, you just have to be near a weapon when it fires," said Russell Davis, TBI.

The victim, Steve Mosley, was shot three times at close range with a .32 caliber gun.

However, a murder weapon was never recovered.

During cross-examination, Cosper's attorney pointed out that experts cannot determine what kind of gun Cosper was around.

DAY 2: Testimony continued in the trial for a 20-year-old accused of killing a mentally handicapped man in 2012.

Ronald Cosper is charged with felony murder. Police say he shot and killed 38-year-old Steve Mosley outside his home on N. Hawthorne Street.

"I started hearing screams. I started hearing children hollerin'. I heard people crying 'help me, help me'," said Cheryl Billups, who remembers the day her boyfriend, Mosley,  was killed.

Billips also testified that she remembered seeing accused shooter, Cosper, in the neighborhood, too.

Billips told the jury she saw three young men pull into the neighborhood in a white car, 

just minutes before gunshots rang out on Hawthorne Street.

Devante "White Chalk" Stoudemire and Dustin Hayes were also charged in connection to the murder.

"I saw a white guy and two black guys, and one of the guys was Ronald Cosper, as I know of today," Billips said.

Although Billups never identified Cosper in a photo lineup, prosecutors say the motive behind the shooting was cash and weed,  which Steve smoked on a regular basis.

He was shot three times at close range and died in front of his house, where Cosper's fingerprints were on the front door.

Gunshot residue was also detected on his shorts. Cosper told police he was shooting off fireworks. The murder happened just two days before the July 4th holiday.

Michael Mosley said his older brother had a mental disability.

"He was just really slow. He went to Orange Grove all those years," Mosley testified.

Although Steve couldn't read or write, he could take care of himself -- and mostly kept to himself.

That's why it was such a shock someone would come after him.

"Someone called me and was like 'Man, somebody shot your brother.' And I was like, get out of here with that," he said.

The trial will continue on Thursday morning.

DAY 1: The trial for the man accused of shooting and killing a mentally handicapped man started on Tuesday.

Ronald Cosper, 20, is charged with killing Steven Mosley, 38, in 2012.

"I had to burn somebody."

According to prosecutors, that's what Ronald Cosper said after shooting Steven Mosley three times at close range at Mosley's home on Hawthorne St. in 2012.

"What he meant by that was he had to shoot Steve Mosley," Asst. District Attorney Cameron Williams told the jury.

The state said Mosley, who was just 133 pounds, was an easy target for then-18-year-old Cosper. Mosley was mentally challenged. He worked at the Orange Grove recycling center.

"He was slow," Williams said. "He couldn't read or write, but he could take care of himself."

Investigators believe the motive of the robbery was cash and marijuana. Cosper's fingerprints were on the front door of Mosley's house, and gunpowder residue was detected on the shorts Cosper was wearing. Still, Cosper's attorney said he's not guilty.

"He's not guilty because he wasn't there," said defense attorney Andrew Basler.

Basler pointed out the state's key witness, Dustin Hayes, will take the stand against Cosper. Hayes is one of two other co-defendants in the case. Devante "White Chalk" Stoudemire is also charged.

"You have a co-defendant who has every reason in the world to tell the police what they need to hear," Basler said. "And he blames Ronnie."

The trial is expected to last several days. Testimony will continue Wednesday.

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