Published Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 10:17 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | 6:40 p.m.
Characterizing herself as a virtuous, doting mother who is routinely victimized by loved ones, Linda Cooney stood shackled in a Clark County courtroom this morning and pleaded for mercy from the judge preparing to dole out her penalty for the attempted murder of her son in 2011, some 20 years after she was acquitted in the death of her ex-husband in Juno Beach, Fla.
Cooney, who was found guilty of the Las Vegas crime by a jury in April, told Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez that local prosecutors vilified her at trial by bringing up the 1992 killing of her ex-husband, whom she said she shot in self-defense.
"I have lived in the shadow of the death of my ex-husband for over 20 years," Cooney said, her voice trembling. "Please have mercy on me."
Gonzalez, ultimately settling on the recommendation of state prosecutors, sentenced Cooney to spend 13 to 41 years in state prison for attempted murder, battery with a deadly weapon, intimidating a witness and stalking in connection with the June 28, 2011, shooting.
Prosecutors said Cooney, 66, shot her son Kevin Cooney while they fought about his relationship with his former girlfriend, Karina Taylor. Defense lawyers said Kevin Cooney attacked his mother during the argument and the gun went off accidentally — it was the same weapon used in James Cooney's death years earlier.
Prosecutors also said that before the shooting, Linda Cooney had tried to sabotage her son's relationship by sending text messages to colleagues saying the girlfriend was evil. Another ex-girlfriend, Clarita Kendall, described a 2006 incident in which Linda Cooney confronted her and kicked her car while Kendall cowered inside.
Both ex-girlfriends said they knew Linda Cooney had killed her husband, and they feared her as a result.
At sentencing Wednesday, James Cooney's brother, Robert Cooney, requested the maximum allowable penalty, which would have kept the 66-year-old woman behind bars for five decades.
"Imagine the potential ongoing abuse that Kevin might be subjected to...(from) his mommy dearest," Robert Cooney told Gonzalez. "Kevin's physical safety and psychological well-being are best served with his mother incarcerated for the remainder of her life."
A Florida jury acquitted Linda Cooney in her husband's death after concluding that she shot him in self-defense. She said her husband lunged at her with a kitchen knife.
Kevin Cooney was instrumental in her acquittal in the early 1990s, testifying that he saw his father with a shiny object, even though he initially told authorities his father had nothing in his hand just prior to his death.
Kevin Cooney, who lost most mobility in his arms and legs from the gunshot wound, has defended his mother in both trials — a fact that she noted while addressing Gonzalez on Wednesday.
Linda Cooney told the judge that she has "good morals and strong family values," and that she did her best to teach her two sons to be "strong enough to be gentle."
"Unfortunately, my son Kevin carried with him an anger and rage disorder that he must have inherited from his father," Cooney told the judge, noting that he stopped taking prescription medication for the condition when he reached his teens.
"Once again, I was made the victim."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.