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Attorneys in Cook murder trial speak out

Posted March 2, 2011
Updated April 23, 2013

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— Prosecutors in the murder trial of a Raleigh doctor who killed a woman nearly two years ago in a drunken-driving crash said Wednesday that they were disappointed by the jury’s verdict Tuesday.

After a 10-2 vote for second-degree murder, all 12 jurors ultimately found Dr. Raymond Cook guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the Sept. 11, 2009, death of Elena Shapiro, a 20-year-old ballerina with the Carolina Ballet.

Authorities say Cook, driving at speeds of at least 75 mph, crashed into Shapiro’s car at the intersection of Strickland and Lead Mine roads in Raleigh, killing her.

Tests indicated he had a blood alcohol concentration three times the .08 concentration that is allowed an hour after the wreck.

The state had sought a second-degree murder conviction, which carries a maximum sentence of 24 years.

“I'm disappointed. We felt strongly this was a murder case,” Wake County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Cruden said.

Defense attorneys said they feel that Cook – now serving a 36- to 54-month prison sentence at Craven Correctional Institution in Vanceboro – got the best possible outcome, given the circumstances.

“We were just very relieved with the jury’s verdict,” Roger Smith Jr. said. “They obviously worked very hard – the jury did – and they agonized over it.”

Cook appeared to show no remorse throughout the trial, although he did shed some tears during his sentencing hearing Tuesday when prosecutors played a video tribute to Shapiro.

“This man has expressed remorse to us at every single turn,” Smith said. “He just didn’t behave the way people might expect, for somebody to break down in tears.”

Defendants have a right to make a statement in court when they are sentenced. Cook did not speak, although his attorneys said he had planned on doing so.

“The moment just never came in court,” Smith Sr. said. “It felt too awkward, and so we passed on it.”

“Even if you're not going to admit responsibility, just to say, ‘I'm sorry I took your daughter,’ I would have expected that, and it was amazing to me that he didn't do that,” Cruden said.

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  • dbright Mar 8, 2011

    I believe there IS an epidemic of drunk drivers in Raleigh. A brief review of news reports in the area proves that. I am surprised by the tolerance of some of the local people toward drunk driving. I likewise find it surprising that some people believe that you can become inebriated, get behind the wheel, and have an "accident", as though you never dreamed a crash could happen.

    When you are drunk and driving, it isn't an accident; it is a "deliberate".

  • glarg Mar 7, 2011

    It becomes obvious that many of the commentators were more interested in vicarious entertainment from other peoples tragedy than they were in figuring out what when on here. They have moved on to other trials to get their thrills and vent their fake outrage.

    If the victim wasn't a pretty ballerina but a divorced middle aged white guy who lived alone would they have cared? Would the Raleigh PD have stationed 2 CRU police men to sit in the courtroom for 11 days doing nothing? How about if Dr. Cook was just another Hispanic laborer who lives with seven other guys in an cramped apartment and does tile work all day and drinking is the only entertainment he has.

    All is "send a message to society" is fake posturing. Wake Co doesnt not have an epidemic of doctors tearing through the streets drunk or high. And the people who are doing it arent listening to GOLO or the newspaper Editorials.

  • Miscellaneous Mar 7, 2011

    @Ana etc... no idea who FT is, but in reading these, it looks like he embarassed y'all. Some real poor pathetic attempts in justification, esp by the in-dope!

  • FTimePlayer Mar 4, 2011

    I've been meaning to ask the question... does anyone know elena's prior DMV issues, if any?

  • FTimePlayer Mar 4, 2011

    Glarg - There is absolutely nothing that we, the educated, rational, realistic ones, can do to change the minds of these emotional, limited capacity, predetermined haters...

  • glarg Mar 4, 2011

    "had the two dissentors been made aware this was not raymonds first offense, they felt the two hold-outs could have been moved to also convict"

    How could they possibly know that unless they discussed inadmissible evidence? After it was revealed post-verdict, they wouldn't have had a chance to talk to the other jurors again.

    It sounds like more conclusion-jumping by the pro-2ND jurors.

  • anastasia Mar 4, 2011

    80 plus percent of the jury listened to the same evidence we did, and found the same verdict. Jurors inside the jury room said, had the two dissentors been made aware this was not raymonds first offense, they felt the two hold-outs could have been moved to also convict. FTime & others didn't feel it important enough to listen to the whole trial, familiarize themselves with all the evidence. Their opinions are like heinies, everybody's 'got one'. :-)

  • Go Figure Mar 4, 2011

    @ armywife. I am totally open to other people's views, you can't agree with everyone all the time. But there is no NEED at all, to call others names and get nasty. That is why Doc, Ana and myself have chosen not to engage with any person who does so.

  • wspiedmont Mar 4, 2011

    Well this has really been a fascinating trial to watch. Fascinating in the sense that it was so tragic on so many levels. And TWO families just so torn apart.

    Also interesting have been the comments. I must say toward the end I hate that it turned into such a slugfest for some. But I for one have learned from all of the comments and it educated my a lot on our judicial system and people's passions.

    I bid you all peace, and thanks for the interesting reads.

  • FTimePlayer Mar 4, 2011

    the scary thing is... we have to allow them to drive, AND vote

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