Saying she feels “more of a prisoner now” because of media attention and public “stalking” of her on social media, the alleged victim in the battery case against Flagler Beach business owner and Commissioner Eric Cooley is asking the State Attorney’s Office to drop the case against her one-time business and life partner.
Cooley was before County Court Judge Melissa Moore-Stens today for a scheduled docket sounding–the last step before trial is scheduled–but Assistant State Prosecutor Jason Lewis asked and was granted a continuance to late September, the last possible continuance as the defense is refusing to waive the 90-day speedy trial clock dating from the day of Cooley’s arrest. By law a trial must be scheduled within that 90-day clock, which expires around Sept. 29.
But without the alleged victim, there is no case against Cooley.
“I cannot allow any more of my past life [to] become part of the media frenzy that this has already started,” Suzanne Kenna, 47, wrote Assistant State Attorney Jason Lewis, who is prosecuting the case. “I again, do not want my life details spread for all to see. I also do not want all the things that I went through to be given to perfect strangers to judge and ridicule. My life has been painful enough and I want it to end now.”
Kenna’s letter is the first look at her own thinking, in her own words, since the case broke two and a half months ago.
Cooley owns the 7-11 on Ocean Shore Boulevard in Flagler Beach, and was elected to the city commission unopposed earlier this year. On June 29, a store employee called police to report that Cooley had allegedly kicked Suzanne Kenna and grabbed her by the throat at the store. Kenna and Cooley worked and lived together for years. He was charged with a misdemeanor battery count. He has pleaded not guilty and denied any allegations of physical violence toward Kenna.
Kenna states in the Aug. 16 email obtained by FlaglerLive that she was “under no corrosion but my own conscience” (she likely meant coercion). But while she appears to have some sympathy for the damage to Cooley’s reputation and to his business, she also appears not to be denying that there had been serious issues between them.
“I do not want to inflict any more pain to him, even though I have every earthly right to.”
“From what I understand from a couple of trusted friends,” Kenna wrote, “Mr Cooley has also suffered much from the media frenzy and has already lost much of his business and possibly will have to move from Flagler as his reputation continues to spiral downward. I feel that God and Karma are already catching up with him. I do not want to inflict any more pain to him, even though I have every earthly right to.”
Josh Davis, Cooley’s attorney, said if the prosecution had a “slam-dunk” case, it would have gone to trial already.
“The victim has dodged them, as in, she doesn’t want to go forward with it,” Davis said today. “So the only person that can prove their case is for whatever reason not wanting this thing to go any further. Whether she has recanted, whether she is sick of it, whether it was blown out of proportion, I don’t know, but she has no interest in going any further with this thing, so they’re going to try to drag her down there.”
Lewis doesn’t disagree with the facts of the case as it’s developed, but he doesn’t abide Davis’s characterization. “She sent us a letter that she doesn’t want to go forward,” Lewis said. “It’s affected her life very much, it’s stressful and traumatic. We don’t necessarily want to drop the case, we’re trying to contact the victim to see if she wants to cooperate, and she has not recanted in any way.” Lewis added: “I think she feels like the newspaper and the news media is infringing too much on her personal life and it’s affecting her in a negative way, and she just feel people are getting too much in her personal life.”
Kenna’s letter repeatedly cites media and social media intrusion “and the continued lack of intrusion that they cause,” in her words, as reasons for her decision not to go forward. “People that I have never even met have made nasty, rude, and uncalled for comments about things they know nothing about,” she wrote. “I am done with this and want to close this long and horrible chapter of my life and move on. I cannot as long as this case goes on.”
She described numerous physical ailments as a result of the stress of the case and the consequences of her own attempts to refer to the case online. “I cannot comment on family posts to social media without others stalking and asking me questions, I almost feel more of a prisoner now,” Kenna wrote.
Davis is eager to run out the clock. Once speedy trial it’s over, it’s forever barred from prosecution after that,” he said. “The defense can waive speedy trial. The prosecution cannot.”
Lewis conceded that absent Kenna, it would be difficult to make a case. “I can’t speculate, but it’d be safe to assume the victim would need to cooperate for us to go forward,” he said.
Davis intends to make a few motions next week to “change a few things,” including the no-contact order now in effect between Cooley and Kenna. Meanwhile, Davis intended to be at tonight’s Flagler Beach Commission meeting in case any member of the public were to address the issue. He said he would speak in defense of his client, essentially handling public opinion as if he were in court. “I hope that whoever makes the comment when something like this happens to them that people show them more grace and fairness than have been shown to Mr. Cooley,” Davis said, stressing the innocent-until-proven-guilty standard.
Ultimately not up to her
What about the employee that called 911? They witnessed this along with others that may be willing to come foward and testify. As a community we can not let this predator get away with such a disgusting act. One must think she is being forced to say this considering her excuse, comments from strangers? Really? That is not a reason at all, it is not fathamable that a comment from a stranger can effect you. Especially considering you can just close your social media accounts
This is not unusual in cases of domestic violence, Which is why and how so many abusers not only keep abusing, but actually get worse as time goes on. The state’s attorney should not judge the disposition of this case based on the social status and emotional ups and downs of the people involved. This woman is already stating that she has been harrassed and intimidated. Rewarding the harassment and intimidation by letting the alleged abuser off the hook is never a good idea in the long run. However, only the State’s Attorney can decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
J local says
Dave is right 911 was called get the tapes subpoena the witness and prosecute the abuser of women typical Flagler co bs
The State Attorney should drop the case—a private life’s business should remain private if the victim wants it that way—-there is no part of publiccin the word private. There are much larger issues out there to be spending time and resources on.
Prosecute Eric, State Attorney, do your job in light of all battered women.
Don’t let this guys getaway with it.
Do whatever it takes in the name of justice!!!
Not her choice and if the DA drops it there is something rotten in Flagler County.
Not knowing the facts or evidence the prosecutors have it’s hard to make an informed opinion. But if they have witness testimony and/or video of the alleged assault why would you need the victims cooperation?
Typical battered women’s syndrome. Crucify him
Anonymous thinks the case should be dropped if the victim so desires? Geesh, that guy could be forcing or threating her with evil things if she doesn’t ask it to be dropped, even though she said that was not the case. Anyone can lie. Just like Trump, these creepy guys use force to get what they want and fear to prevent someone telling. If person commits a crime like this, let the judge and jury decide the case.
The victim says she doesn’t want her life’s situation made public and people judge her. So because of that she is willing to let a vicious man go free and maybe kill someone or beat other women? After the trial the victim could move elsewhere, start a new life and her name would be very quickly forgotten because there is too much news happening in the world to dwell on one case. How many things have we already forgotten about, lots.
This guy needs to be tried to the full extent of the law and hopefully put away for a long time. Judge Stens seems quite willing to consider the victims request and that bothers me. I hope it’s not political.
I will assure everyone in this county that Jason Lewis will do what is morally rite!!!! He is deffently the best state state att. In our district!
Dear Suzanne, If you’re out there reading this and the other comments, I’m sorry that people are making your life more miserable. I’m sorry people feel compelled to opine when they do not know the facts and have probably never been in your position. I’m sorry you are in pain for doing the right thing. Please try to be brave and help the next victim.
been there before says
Have any of you that are so quick to judge and comment, for or against either side of the issue, been there before? Have any of you felt the pain and guilt of the issue, on either side? I bet there is something in your life that you would not appreciate everyone putting in their opinion, telling you what you should do or how terrible a person you are, or how weak you are for allowing things to happen. Before you judge either side, stop and think, really think, would you want the world to do the same to you? “She’s weak because she wants to move on with her life.” ” He’s a vicious liar that needs to be hung, ” What do you have in your life that people will tear you apart just to get their 2-cents in? Specially people that have not even met you, know you, or care about you. Can you say your slate is clean? The Bible says “judge not, lest you be judged with the same standard”. Can you hold up to your own judgements?
I can’t help but wonder why Mr. Cooley’s store isn’t in jeopardy. Even If she drops the charges, they have the tape that made the prosecutor file charges. I don’t know of a large company like 7 -11 that doesn’t have a “moral clause” in their company handbook.
I, for one, have not patronized that 7-11 since this story broke nor will I. Eric should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The State does not need Miss Kenna in order to do so.