A Davenport man has pleaded not guilty to charges accusing him of trying to hire someone to kill his ex-wife's boyfriend.

John Henry Cooper, 43, waived his right to a formal arraignment and filed a written plea through his attorney, Eric Syverud, in Scott County District Court.

On Wednesday, Assistant Scott County Attorney Kimberly Shepherd filed the trial information that formally charged Cooper with one count of solicitation to commit murder, a Class C felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. 

If he is convicted, however, prosecutors will seek an enhanced sentence of up to 15 years in prison because they say he is a "habitual offender."

A habitual offender is a defendant convicted of a Class C or a Class D felony who has been convicted twice before of any felony, according to Iowa Code. Cooper has prior felony convictions in Clinton County and Whiteside County, Illinois.

If convicted with the enhanced sentenced, he would have to serve at least three years before he is eligible for parole.

Court records show Cooper was ordered in September by a judge in Clinton County to complete programming at the Residential Correctional Facility in Davenport for violating the terms of his probation in a drug case. Once he completed the program, he was to be released back to probation, according to court records.

On Nov. 28, a residential officer was conducting a routine eye count and saw Cooper looking at a small phone while lying in a bed. The phone was confiscated, according to an application filed by Davenport police in support of a search warrant. The following day, another residential officer conducted a random locker search and found a second cell phone in Cooper's locker.

During a search of the phone, the residential officer saw threatening messages from Cooper to a former resident of the RCF. Though a Facebook message, Cooper asked the former resident to kill a man who was in a relationship with his ex-wife. The man also is a former resident of the RCF.

On Jan. 11, a judge in Clinton County ruled Cooper violated the terms of his probation in his drug case because of the solicitation allegation and ordered him to serve the original sentence of up to five years in prison, according to the application.

The case was forwarded to Davenport police on Jan. 14. An officer spoke with the alleged victim, who said Cooper had been harassing him and his girlfriend for almost two years and that he had contact with Cooper by telephone via text message and Facebook Messenger, according to the application.

Cooper has a pretrial conference July 12. A trial has been tentatively set for July 22. 

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