Transgender teen sent to prison for killing 12-year-old girl

The killer was allegedly in a sexual relationship with the victim when the murder occurred

An 18-year-old transgender woman in the US state of Pennsylvania, who fatally shot a young girl and then confessed to the crime on Instagram, has been sentenced to up to 40 years behind bars, local prosecutors announced on Thursday. 

Ash Cooper, known as Joshua Cooper at the time of the 2022 murder in Bensalem Township, began transitioning after the arrest. Cooper, who was then 16, told the police that he and the victim – 12-year-old Morgan Connors – were in a sexual relationship. 

“Ash Cooper, who previously went by Joshua Cooper, pled guilty Thursday to third-degree murder, possession of an instrument of crime, and tampering with or fabricating physical evidence,” Buck’s County District Attorney’s office said in a statement. 

“Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey L. Finley sentenced Cooper to 15 to 40 years in state prison and a consecutive sentence of seven years of probation,” the DA office added.

The perpetrator was also ordered to undergo a psychological and psychiatric evaluation. 

According to the investigation, the murder took place at a trailer park on November 25, 2022. The two friends were reportedly watching Netflix when Connors got up to use the bathroom. Cooper then shot her using his father’s gun and contacted an acquaintance, also a teen, via Instagram video chat – showing the victim’s body covered in blood and asking for help to dispose of it. 

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The witness then told her mother, who in turn called the police to report the possible homicide. 

When the first responders arrived, they saw Cooper “running out of the back of the trailer.” Cooper was apprehended shortly afterwards and taken into custody. Morgan was found lying on the bathroom floor with “an apparent gunshot wound.” She was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The authorities noted that “substantial steps” were taken to clean up the crime scene. 

Cooper reportedly maintained that the murder was an accident, saying he was scared of going to jail for the rest of his life.

The victim’s grandfather wrote in a statement heard by the court that losing his granddaughter caused “intense pain and heartbreak” and that “The human heart is not built for such heartbreak.” 

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