One of Spokane's first serial child abusers will be punished for killing a baby and blinding another.
Investigators said when James Cooley was left alone with kids, he would lose his temper and take out his frustrations on defenseless youngsters.
Cooley's family said it all started in 2008. They said he's been on a "drug-fed rage" since he lost a lot of cocaine to a state patrol trooper in a traffic stop that year.
In May 2010, Cooley claimed his first victim. Police said he shook a 6-month-old child so hard he suffered brain damage.
"It was a shaken baby. I believe the baby is blind and I don't know if it suffered retardation from that. But the baby has not recovered from those injuries," said Major Crimes Detective Lt. Dave McGovern.
Police said the attack wasn't reported for 18 hours and too many other people had been in Cooley's mother's home to hold him responsible. Then in September of the same year, Cooley's girlfriend left him alone with a different set of kids.
"His demeanor never gave me an inkling he was a bad person. He was always happy and never even raised his voice to me or my kids," said Cooley's girlfriend, Rebecca McCollough.
McCollough said she thought her kids would be safe with Cooley while she ran a few errands. But during the short time she was away from her Hillyard apartment, police said Cooley beat 1-year-old Santiago to death then put the child in a crib. Cooley then assaulted Santiago's 4-year-old brother. McCollough returned home and made the horrific discovery.
"I noticed from the doorway. I didn't see his stomach moving. His body was covered with his blanket so I went to the bed. I didn't uncover his face yet but I put my hand on his belly. I took his blanket off and saw his whole face was bruised," said McCollough.
Cooley pleaded guilty to both incidents.
At the prosecutor's insistence, he will serve his sentences consecutively. That means Cooley will be sentenced to 36 years when he appears before the court on Monday.