CROSSVILLE — Prior to throwing himself to the mercy of a jury of his peers, Cody Rickey Cofer, 24, of Loudon County was offered a deal from state prosecutors that called for a 43-year prison sentence in exchange for his plea of guilty to killing Albert Keith Patton, and Robert William (Bill) Asher.
Despite saving the taxpayers money and getting what
some might call a sweetheart deal for killing two
men, Cofer and his family rolled the dice and
invoked his right to trial and said no.
Today Cofer is serving two consecutive life
sentences in the Tennessee Department of Corrections
for the November 2008 killing of Patton, 29, and
Asher, 62, during a home invasion at Patton's home
just west of Crab Orchard.
"You went and did not even know where you were
going, wore all black and a black mask and with
guns," Judge David Patterson said in announcing his
decision. "When you get there it is not even the
same plan ... you saw a room full of peope. You
should have backed out ...
"The court finds you place no value on human life,
even when one lies dying."
In Tennessee, a life sentence equals 51 years in
prison. By virtue of the sentences being ordered by
Judge Patterson to be served one at a time, or
consecutively, that equals 102 years before eligible
In addition, Patterson added a 12-year sentence to
be served concurrently, or at the same time, for the
aggravated robbery charge.
State Probation Officer Danny Williams was the only
witness to testify during last Thursday's sentencing
hearing, and provided a list of prior arrests that
Cofer had accumulated between 2004-07. Charges
included possession of marijuana for sale or
delivery, criminal impersonation, evading arrest and
a host of misdemeanor arrests.
Williams said he found that Cofer had violated
probation conditions at least three times and was on
probation when the murders were committed.
Witness impact statements were included in the file
presented to Judge Patterson but were not read out
loud in court. Family spokesperson, Terrye Patton,
did address the court and with Cofer sitting just a
few feet away, talked about the loss of their loved
one. Cofer listened but showed no reaction to the
Patton used words like "gentleman, true cowboy,
generous," to describe Albert Keith Patton, and
called Cofer and his co-defendants "greedy and
selfish. He has shown no remorse."
She broke from her written text to tell Cofer that
as long as he denied his role in the killings, " ...
you are never going to get anywhere ... We just want
to hear you are sorry so we can go on."
Deputy District Attorney Gary McKenzie used Cofer's
prior record, the fact the crime had more than one
victim, that there was disregard for human life with
so many witnesses in the room, that a firearm was
used and that Cofer is a dangerous offender.
"There was no hesitation on his part when the risk
was great," McKenzie argued to the court. "As for
regard to human safety, there had to be none." He
pointed toward Cofer's threat to kill one of the
witnesses if he went to aid the two dying men.
Defense attorney Robert Marlow argued for two life
sentences to be served concurrently for a total of
51 years, adding that the state withdrew the option
of life without parole during the trial.
Patterson stated, however, that the dropping of life
without parole was between state prosecutors and
Marlow and not the court.
The rejected 43-year offer is the same sentence that
co-defendant Alexander Carino received when he
pleaded guilty. In exchange for that sentence,
Carino was supposed to testify against his friend
but when it came time for Carino to take the witness
stand, the co-defendant balked.
Because Carino refused to testify, the state has
filed a motion to set aside his guilty plea in an
effort to bring his case before a jury. McKenzie
asked that a hearing date be set on that motion and
Patterson said he would set that date on Jan. 26
when he hears motions for a new trial. That hearing
will begin at 2 p.m.