A man serving time for a 2001 murder was found guilty Monday and sentenced to 80 years behind bars for a 1989 cold case murder out of Plano.
Collin County prosecutors said 51-year-old Temmie Cooley strangled 23-year-old Sharon Trimble to death and left her nude body partially covered with a red sweater in a ditch along County Road 140 in November 1989.
The victim and Cooley, who were the same age at the time of her death, worked together at Children's Medical Center and may have had a romantic relationship.
In the initial investigation prosecutors said Cooley denied any romantic connection to the victim and said they were just coworkers.
Despite several interviews, Cooley avoided arrest in the case for more than two decades. He was arrested in 2014 after detectives obtained a DNA sample from Cooley which matched sperm collected in Trimble's sex assault kit from 1989.
"Over the course of 25 years, Cooley was interviewed several times. In each of his interviews, he denied any kind of sexual relationship with the victim until confronted with the DNA match," prosecutors said in a news release. "Cooley ultimately admitted to the sexual relationship, but provided inconsistent statements as to his whereabouts the night of the murder and the last time he saw her. Cooley never confessed to the murder, but he also never denied killing the victim over the 25-year investigation."
During the trial, the jury learned Cooley was serving a 35-year sentence after confessing to the 2001 slaying of Earlene Wardell. Wardell, who was also believed to be having an affair with Cooley at the time of her death, was strangled and her body dumped in a remote location -- circumstances prosecutors noted were very similar to Trimble's death.
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Cooley was sentenced 35 years in the Wardell murder and, according to Texas Department of Criminal Justice records, he was eligible for parole in June 2019.