SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — An attorney for a man charged in the October 2010 shooting death of a Shreveport police officer has filed a motion requesting more time to prepare for trial.

Christopher Cope, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Sgt. Tim Prunty.

Prunty was standing outside a convenience store speaking with a store clerk when a man drove up and opened fire, striking Prunty several times. He died a short time later at a hospital.

Police Chief Willie Shaw said Cope had no reason to shoot Prunty, and to his knowledge, their paths had not crossed previously.

Defense Attorney Dwight Doskey asked for a continuance of up to one year to properly prepare for trial.

Doskey filed the motion because of personnel problems within his organization, he told state District Judge Mike Pitman.

He said the former mitigation expert for the defense resigned without properly preparing the case due to a "compassion burnout."

He said a mitigation expert is necessary to conduct pertinent interviews and help organize the defense strategy. Doskey, of New Orleans, said it would be impossible to prepare for the July 23 trial date.

Doskey called Carla Boose, a local mitigation expert, forward to give her estimate on the proper amount of time she would require if she took the case.

Boose said she would only take the case if she was given enough time to do a sufficient job, and it would take nine months to one year to properly prepare for Cope's trial.

Assistant District Attorney Dale Cox, the lead prosecutor in the case along with Brady O'Callaghan, argued against the continuance, citing the nearness of the case.

"Less than two months from trial, we find the work has not been done," Cox said, referencing Cope's last court appearance. "At the end of 2011, it seems to me, the status of the mitigation should have been known."

The Times reports ( Pitman declined to rule on the continuance Thursday and said he would take it under advisement and issue his ruling on or before the next hearing May 30.


Information from: The Times,