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Seth Cooper Indicted on First Degree Murder Charge

By Susan Avedissian

COURT HOUSE — A Cape May County grand jury Tuesday, Nov. 27 indicted Seth Gordon Cooper, 19, of Goshen Road on first degree murder and related charges stemming from the shooting death of John Cavicchio, III, 23, of South Seaville on Dec. 10, 2006.
The homicide investigation revealed the shooting occurred following a confrontation between two groups of young men on Pennsylvania Avenue, between Burleigh and Whitesboro, prosecutors said.
Cooper, who was 18 at the time, is alleged to have shot Cavicchio to death in a wooded area of Middle Township Dec. 10 reportedly in a dispute over a female. Cavicchio was flown to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center trauma unit, where he died Dec. 11.
Defense attorney John Tumelty told Superior Court Judge Carmen Alvarez on May 18 this year there was an issue about a female between Seth Cooper and one of the other men involved that night.
First Assistant Prosecutor J. David Meyer argued then that
Cavicchio and two other men, Ernest Dominguez and Charles Griggs, traveled together to a wooded area anticipating a fight over a mutual girlfriend, but Cooper was lying in wait with a gun.
Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten refused to grant a defense request from attorney John Tumelty Nov. 16 to reduce Cooper’s bail. Cooper, 19, remains lodged in county jail on $850,000 bail since his capture in South Carolina. A multi-jurisdictional investigation resulted in his arrest Dec. 23 in a Waffle House in South Carolina. Cooper signed a waiver of extradition agreeing to return to New Jersey voluntarily.
The Grand Jury returned charges in the indictment against Seth G. Cooper, along with Riley L Cooper, Raymond A. Fryar and Charles Griggs, III, as follows:
Seth G. Cooper:
• Count I, first degree murder. Cooper “did purposely or knowingly kill John Cavicchio III or did purposely or knowingly inflict serious bodily injury upon him resulting in his death.”
• Count II, attempted murder. Cooper “did purposely attempt to kill Ernest Dominquez.”
• Count III, IV, possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. Cooper “knowingly and unlawfully did possess a certain weapon, namely, a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person of another,” and “knowingly and unlawfully did possess a certain weapon, namely, a .32 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver/handgun, serial no. 292386 without first having obtained a permit to carry same as provided in NJSA 2C:58-4;
Riley L. Cooper:
• Count V, VI, unlawful possession of a weapon, two counts. Riley Cooper did “knowingly and unlawfully did possess a certain weapon, namely, a .25 caliber Raven Arms semi-automatic handgun with a purpose to use it unlawfully against the person of another” and did so without a permit.
Seth G. Cooper and Riley L. Cooper:
• Both indicted on the charge of hindering apprehension. The indictment reads they “did with purpose to hinder their own apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment, suppress, by way of concealment or destruction, any evidence of the crime or tamper with evidence which might aid in his discovery or apprehension or the lodging of a charge against him.”
Riley L. Cooper and Raymond A. Fryar
• Both indicted on an additional charge of hindering apprehension, allegedly “with purpose to hinder the apprehension, prosecution, conviction or punishment of another person, that is Seth G. Cooper, did harbor or conceal the said Seth G. Cooper provide or aid in providing a weapon, money, transportation disguise or other means of avoiding discovery or apprehension or effecting escape.”
Charles Griggs, III:
• Griggs was indicted on the charge of false swearing for providing two sworn statements which prosecutors claim are contradictory.
The indictment charges that in one Sworn Statement to Detective Mike Emmer, Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, Dec. 10, 2006, Griggs positively identifies the individual who shot John Cavicchio, III as Seth Cooper and further claims that Seth Cooper pointed the handgun at this head before then firing the handgun multiple times at Ernest Dominguez.
In a second sworn statement to Investigator Den Tomlinson dated Aug. 20, 2007, Griggs denied that he could identify Seth Cooper as the shooter and further denied that the handgun was ever pointed at him. “He further indicated that the shooter fired on shot into the air and then chased Ernest Dominguez without firing any additional shots until the single shot that killed John Cavicchio, III,” the indictment reads, while, “he subscribed to both statements, one or the other was a false statement which the defendant did not believe to be true.”
Police and prosecutors have identified Seth Cooper as the person that allegedly fired the fatal shot that led to Cavicchio’s death. Immediately after the shooting, Cooper and his two alleged accomplices, Riley Cooper, then 20, also of Goshen Road, Court House, and Fryar, then 21, of the 300 block Bayview Avenue, Rio Grande, fled the scene. Seth Cooper and Fryar traveled to Philadelphia.
Fryar was arrested Dec. 13 by the Philadelphia Police Homicide Unit, and charged as a fugitive from justice, based on a conspiracy charge to commit aggravated assault, obstruction of justice and possession of a weapon. He, too, signed a waiver of extradition.
Riley Cooper was arrested at his residence later that same date. He was remanded to county jail.
Seth Cooper remained at large until his Dec. 23 arrest.
Persons convicted of murder can be sentenced up to a life term in state prison.
Contact Avedissian at (609) 886-8600 Ext 27 or at: savedissian@cmcherald.com.

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