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Accused killer held without bail in Superior jail

The man accused of gunning down Toriano Dawen Cooper last year in Superior is being held without bail in the Douglas County Jail. Tiawain Albert Johnson, 21, of Chicago, Ill., made an initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court on Wednesda...

Tiawain Albert Johnson
Tiawain Albert Johnson, 22, of Chicago, faces a first-degree intentional homicide charge in Douglas County Circuit Court.

The man accused of gunning down Toriano Dawen Cooper last year in Superior is being held without bail in the Douglas County Jail.

Tiawain Albert Johnson, 21, of Chicago, Ill., made an initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court on Wednesday. He faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide.

District Attorney Dan Blank requested no bail be set in the case based on the serious nature of the crime, the need to protect the public and Johnson's lack of ties to the area.

Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy denied bail, noting that the complaint alleges very serious conduct, including gun use, pre-planning and fleeing the area.

Chief Public Defender J. Patrick O'Neill represents Johnson and disagrees with the decision.

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"I think every person is entitled to reasonable bail" based on their individual circumstances, he said outside the courtroom. "So I think holding someone without bail simply is not reasonable."

Bail was recently denied to another Douglas County murder suspect, 41-year-old Juan Leonardo Padilla. Padilla is accused of fatally shooting Terence Rodney Luukkonen on May 23 in the parking lot of Genesis Attachments on Connors Point in Superior.

"It's real unfortunate that we've got two horrible homicide situations going at once now," Blank said following Wednesday's hearing.

Cooper, 36, had been working on a car about 10 a.m. Jan. 15, 2012, in front of 1901 N. 12th St., when the fatal shooting took place. He managed to make it into the house, where he died of his injuries.

Developments from the investigation led to charges against Johnson, who had been residing in Superior at the time of the shooting, but returned to the Chicago area after the homicide.

According to the criminal complaint, the shooting was in retaliation for an armed robbery in which Johnson was the victim. Information gathered by police suggested Cooper, who's street name was "Snap," either orchestrated or participated in the robbery that relieved Johnson of anywhere between $5,000 and $7,000 in cash and drugs according to witness statements.

Johnson was aware of Cooper's identity, and the shooting is believed to be an act of retaliation for the robbery, according to a news release issued in June by Superior Deputy Chief Nicholas Alexander.

Several witnesses told police Johnson had bragged about catching up with the guy who arranged the robbery before he left the area. Two witnesses only identified by initials in the criminal complaint told police Johnson showed them a .380 caliber handgun that he had used.

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Johnson was identified by witnesses in a photo lineup as the person who admitted to fatally shooting Cooper, according to the criminal complaint.

Blank said the case is strong, but there are a lot of pieces of the puzzle to fit together. The investigation into the case is ongoing, he said, especially now that Johnson has been located.

"It appears on the face to be a strong case, but there's no such thing as an open and shut case," Blank said. "So we're going to work to make it stronger."

No family members attended Wednesday's hearing. Blank said his office has only been in touch with one of Cooper's relatives, a brother who lives out of town.

"But we still have to stand up for a homicide," Blank said. "Whether or not family or friends are coming to the court demanding justice, we've got to do it anyway."

A preliminary hearing was set for 2 p.m. Tuesday in front of Judge Kelly Thimm.

Related Topics: CRIMESUPERIOR
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