Seattle doctor who murdered his partner, 2-year-old son sentenced to 49 years

SEATTLE  –  A Seattle physician who murdered his partner and their two-and-a-half-year-old son has been sentenced to 49 years in prison.

The murders of Eric Cooper and his son, Cooper Chen, happened five years ago at their First Hill penthouse apartment in Seattle.

In February, Cooper’s partner, Dr. Louis Chen, 43, entered a guilty plea to charges of first- and second-degree murder, for brutally stabbing his partner and slashing their son’s throat in August 2011.

Chen pled guilty to first-degree murder, which is premeditated, for the death of his toddler, Cooper,  He pled guilty to second-degree murder, considered intentional, for Eric Cooper’s death.

Several experts are expected to testify about Chen’s mental state.

Chen's sentence could have ranged from 34 to 49 years in prison. He was given the maximum sentence.

Chen avoided the possibility of a life sentence when reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in February.

Prosecutors originally charged Chen with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder.  Prosecutor Dan Satterberg decided not to seek the death penalty.  That left the only possible punishment life in prison with no early release, if he had been convicted as charged.

In 2011, Dr. Chen, an endocrinologist, moved to Seattle with his family from North Carolina for a job at Virginia Mason.  When he didn’t show up for his first day of work, a hospital manager went to Chen’s apartment, according to court records.

Investigators say Chen was naked and covered in dried blood.  Inside, police found the bodies of Eric Cooper, who had been stabbed more than 100 times, and their son, whose neck had been repeatedly cut.