The Commission on Capital Cases was not funded in the FY 2011-2012 General Appropriations Act, and the Commission ceased operations on June 30, 2011. This site and the Commission website are being retained to provide access to historical materials.

The Registry Attorneys will be continued by the Justice Administration Commission.

These actions are effective July 1, 2011.

Disclaimer: The Commission on Capital Cases receives this information from a variety of sources. The site will be updated consistently as information is received and will be audited bi-annually. We make every attempt to ensure the accuracy of the information provided; however, the information should be verified by the applicable court prior to using it for legal or statistical purposes.


Last NameFirst NamePictureDC NumberAgencyCase Summary
CooperRichard 087442CCRC-M/PrivateCase Summary

Last Action

DateCourtCase NumberLast Action
6/22/2004USDC04-1447Habeas Corpus
12/17/2008USDC04-1447Habeas Denied
6/5/2009USDC04-1447COA application
6/5/2009USCA09-12977Habeas appeal filed

Current Attorney

Last NameFirst NameCityAddressZipPhoneEMail
GruberMark S.Tampa, FL3801 Corporex Park Dr Ste 21033619813/740-3544Email


Last NameCase NumberJudgeCountyCCRCOrder DateContract Date

Last Updated

2008-01-09 11:43:13.0

Case Summary
Direct Links

The Commission on Capital Cases updates this information regularly

The Commission on Capital Cases updates thisinformation regularly.  This information, however, is subject to changeand may not reflect the latest status of an inmate’s case and should not berelied on for statistical or legal purposes.


COOPER, Richard (W/M)

DC#    087442          

DOB: 09/28/63


Sixth Judicial Circuit, Pinellas County, Case #83-00678

Sentencing Judge: The Honorable William L. Walker 

Trial Attorney: Ky M. Koch, Esq. & Ronnie G. Crider,Esq. 

Attorney, Direct Appeal: John E. Swisher, Esq. & RobertH. Dillinger, Esq. 

Attorney, Collateral Appeals: Mark Gruber & David Hendry– CCRC-M

                                               Stephen Hanlon, Esq. – Private


Date of Offense:          06/18/82

Date of Sentence:        03/14/84


Circumstances of Offense:


Richard Cooper was convicted and sentenced to death for hispart in three murders that occurred during the course of a robbery on 06/18/82.


Eight-year-old Chris Fridella contacted police in the earlymorning hours of 06/18/82, notifying them that his father and two of hisfather’s friends had been shot.  When authorities arrived at the scene,they found Steven Fridella, Bobby Martindale, and Gary Petersen dead, lyingface down on the floor with their hands bound behind them.  The victim’swallets had been rummaged through, and the house had been scoured in anapparent search for valuables.


Approximately six months later, Robin Fridella, StevenFridella’s ex-wife, furnished police with information that pointed to RichardCooper and his accomplices: Terry Van Royal, Jason Dirk Walton and JeffMcCoy.  During an interview, Cooper confessed to the murders and relayedthe following information in his statement.  The four men had planned therobbery for over a week and, on the evening of 06/17/82, they went to theFridella residence.  Jeff McCoy stayed in the car while the other threemen entered the house.  Cooper, Royal, and Walton rounded up the adults inhouse, tied their hands and laid them down on the living room floor.  Eight-year-oldChris Fridella was ushered into the bathroom.  Walton searched the housewhile Cooper and Royal guarded the captives.  One of the captives was ableto identify Walton, so, Walton pronounced that all three men must beshot.  Walton commanded Cooper and Royal to open fire on the captive menwhen his own gun misfired.  Upon leaving the house, Walton told Cooperthat one of the men was still alive, at which time Cooper re-entered the houseand shot Fridella again.


Additional Information:


Richard Cooper was convicted of a burglary (Case# 82-00221)that occurred on 07/24/82, after the aforementioned murders.  He wassubsequently sentenced to one year and one month imprisonment for that crime. 


Codefendant Information:


Jason Dirk Walton was convicted and sentenced to death forhis part in the murders that occurred on 06/18/82.  


Terry Van Royal Jr. and Jeff McCoy were sentenced to threelife sentences for their parts in the murders.


Trial Summary:


08/17/82         Defendant arrested.

04/06/83         Defendant indicted on the following:

                                   Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Gary Petersen)

                                   Count II:           First-DegreeMurder (Bobby Martindale)

                                   Count III:         First-Degree Murder(Steven Fridella)

04/14/83         The defendant entered a plea of “not guilty”.

01/13/84         The jury found the defendant guilty on all counts.

01/14/84         Upon advisory sentencing, the jury voted for the death penalty by a 9 to 3

majority for the murder of GaryPetersen, by a 7 to 5 majority for the murder of Bobby Martindale, and by a 7to 5 majority for the murder of Steven Fridella.

03/14/84         The defendant was sentenced as followed:

                                   Count I:           First-Degree Murder (Gary Petersen) - Death

                                   Count II:           First-DegreeMurder (Bobby Martindale) - Death

                                   Count III:         First-Degree Murder(Steven Fridella) - Death


Appeal Summary:


Florida Supreme Court – Direct Appeal

FSC #65,133

492 So. 2d 1059


04/06/84         Appeal filed.

07/17/86         FSC affirmed the convictions and sentences of death.

09/10/86         Rehearing denied.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC #86-5958

479 U.S. 1101


12/05/86         Petition filed.

02/23/87         Petition denied.


State Circuit Court – 3.850 Motion

CC #83-00678


02/22/89         Motion filed.

08/30/01         Motion denied.


Florida Supreme Court – Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC #74,171

743 So. 2d 11


05/18/89         Petition filed.

09/07/99         Petition dismissed without prejudice.


Florida Supreme Court – 3.850 Appeal

FSC #SC01–2285

856 So.2d 969


10/15/01         Appeal filed.

06/26/03         Denial affirmed.

10/27/03         Mandate issued.


Florida Supreme Court - Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus

FSC #SC02-623

856 So.2d 969


03/20/02         Petition filed.

06/26/03         Petition denied.

10/27/03         Mandate issued.


United States Supreme Court – Petition for Writ ofCertiorari

USSC #03-8093

540 U.S. 1222


12/24/03         Petition filed.

03/01/04         Petition denied.


U.S. District Court, Middle District – Petition forWrit of Habeas Corpus

USDC# 04-1447


06/22/04         Petition filed.

12/17/08         Petition denied.


U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit – HabeasCorpus Appeal

USCA# 09-12977



06/05/09          Appeal filed.




04/18/89         Warrant signed by Governor Bob Martinez.

06/20/89         Scheduled execution date.

06/07/89         Stay of execution granted by the State Circuit Court.




12/07/87         Clemency hearing held. (Denied)


Factors Contributing to the Delay in the Imposition ofthe Sentence:


The principle delay in this case is the lengthy dispositionof Cooper’s Motion to Vacate Judgment and Sentence (3.850).  Thatparticular motion was filed on 02/22/89 and was amended several times. The disposition, however, took over 12.5 years to reach a denial on08/30/01.   


Case Information:


Cooper filed a Direct Appeal in the Florida Supreme Court on04/06/84.  In that appeal, he argued that the trial court erred in theadmission of evidence that was seized in an unlawful search and in theapplication of aggravating and mitigating circumstances.  The FloridaSupreme Court agreed with Cooper that the murder was not committed during thecourse of a kidnapping; however, they affirmed the application of all otheraggravating factors found by the trial court.  On 07/17/86, the FloridaSupreme Court affirmed the convictions and sentences of death.


Cooper next filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari in theUnited States Supreme Court, which was denied on 02/23/87.


The defendant then filed a Motion to Vacate Judgment andSentence (3.850) in the State Circuit Court on 02/22/89.  While thatmotion was pending, Governor Bob Martinez signed a death warrant for RichardCooper, and the execution was scheduled for 06/20/89.  On 06/07/89, theState Circuit Court granted a stay of execution.  Twelve and a half yearsafter its original filing date, the Circuit Court denied Cooper’s 3.850Motion.  Cooper filed an appeal of that decision in the Florida SupremeCourt on 10/15/01, which was affirmed on 06/26/03.


During the deliberation on Cooper’s 3.850 Motion, he filed aPetition for Writ of Habeas Corpus in the Florida Supreme Court.  Thepetition was dismissed without prejudice on 09/07/99 to be re-filed underFlorida Rule of Appellant Procedure 9.140 (b) (6) (e).


On 03/20/02, Cooper filed another Petition for Writ of HabeasCorpus in the Florida Supreme Court which was denied on 06/26/03.


On 12/24/03, Cooper filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorariin the United States Supreme Court, which was denied 03/01/04.


On 06/22/04, Cooper filed a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpuswith the U.S. District Court, Middle District, that was denied on 12/17/08. On06/05/09, Cooper filed a Habeas Corpus Appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals,11th Circuit. This appeal is pending.


Institutional Adjustment: 



DATE            DAYS             VIOLATION                                     LOCATION       

--------            ----               ----------------------------                 ------------------- 

12/12/84         0                    FIGHTING                                        FSP

05/11/85         0                    POSS OF CONTRABAND               FSP

06/11/98         0                    POSS OF NARCOTICS                    UNION C.I.         

02/23/99         0                     POSS OFNEGOTIABLES                UNION C. I.         

09/22/99         0                    GAMBLING OR POSS.                    UNION C.I.         

03/11/00         0                    POSS OF CONTRABAND               UNION C. I.         

03/31/03         0                    MAIL VIOLATIONS                         UNION C.I.          




02/12/02 – ew

02/13/02 – approved – ws

09/25/09 – updated – kkr