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A jury Monday convicted Ronald Cosper of first-degree felony murder and attempted especially aggravated robbery in the 2012 killing of Steve Mosley.

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Ronald Cosper
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Judge Barry Steelman talks with defense attorney Andrew Basler, left, and prosecution attorney Lance Pope during jury selection in the felony murder trial on April 7 in Chattanooga in the 2012 shooting death of Steve Mosley.

After the verdict was announced, Judge Barry Steelman pronounced Cosper's sentence: the 21-year-old faces an automatic sentence of life in prison. Several family members cried out and left the courtroom screaming. Two were arrested by court officers and held in contempt of court, then marched back to the same holding cells where Cosper had been taken just moments earlier.

Prosecutors laid out the case against Cosper during three days of testimony last week. Mosley, who had mental disabilities and lived alone at 2012 N. Hawthorne St., was shot three times in his home on the afternoon of July 2, 2012.

"He was at his own house," Assistant District Attorney General Lance Pope said. "There's no reason for anyone to be treated like that."

Dustin Hayes testified he drove Cosper to Mosley's home for a robbery Cosper had been planning for some time. Hayes pleaded guilty April 2 to facilitation to commit aggravated robbery in the case, and charges of first-degree murder and aggravated robbery were dismissed.

During the trial, jurors heard about gunshot residue found on Cosper's shorts and shell casings found under his bed. His fingerprint was found on the screen door of Mosley's house. They also heard from Mosley's neighbor about the scuffle she heard before three shots were fired, and from his girlfriend, who said she saw Cosper, Hayes and a third man, Devante Stoudemire, in the minutes after the shooting.

Cosper's attorney, Andrew Basler, told jurors throughout the trial that Cosper hadn't robbed Mosley and in fact hadn't even been present at his house that afternoon.

He said Stoudemire and Hayes organized the robbery and set Cosper up to take the fall.

Cosper will be sentenced June 8 on the charge of attempted especially aggravated robbery, though he already faces life in prison for first-degree felony murder.

Contact staff writer Claire Wiseman at cwiseman@timesfreepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @clairelwiseman.

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