By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
An Escambia County man, convicted of manslaughter in the 2009 shooting death of a Nokomis man, and a Tuscaloosa County man who continued to commit violent crimes after he was imprisoned, will both remain behind bars for at least five more years.
Clarence Luker, who in 2010 entered a guilty plea to shooting Kenneth Porter after the two were involved in a dispute at a Nokomis mobile home park, and James Edward “Rabbit” Cooper, who drew a life sentence for an assault he committed in prison, were each denied early release during recent hearings by the Alabama Board of Pardons & Paroles.
Luker, now 50, and codefendant Lorraine Gray were captured hours after the shooting when they returned to the scene of the crime and were spotted by a reporter. Tracking dogs from Fountain Correctional Facility, where Luker is now housed, and Century (Fla.) Correctional Institution were called in to help find him, and he was eventually captured, still wearing the blood-spattered clothing he had on when the shooting occurred.
He was sentenced to serve 20 years and has served almost 12. His minimum release date without parole or a pardon is September 23, 2029.
Cooper entered the prison system in 1990 after his conviction in Tuscaloosa County of third-degree robbery and the 20-year sentence he received. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole in 1996 when he was convicted of first-degree assault while in a Bessemer correctional facility.
He drew an additional 15 years in 2004 when he was convicted in Escambia County Circuit Court of second-degree assault while he was an inmate at Fountain Correctional Facility.
Cooper, who is currently housed at Elmore Correctional Facility, has served slightly more than 25 years behind bars, with jail time considered. He is not eligible for release unless he is granted a pardon or parole.