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New charge filed against doctor in ballerina's death

Posted September 15, 2010

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— A Raleigh doctor charged in a wreck a year ago that killed a ballet dancer has been indicted on another charge in the case.

A Wake County grand jury on Monday indicted Raymond Dwight Cook, a plastic surgeon, on a charge of felony death by vehicle. He was rearrested Tuesday and was released on a $250,000 bond.

Cook was previously charged with second-degree murder and driving while impaired in the Sept. 11, 2009, wreck that killed Elena Bright Shapiro.

Raleigh police said Cook, of 10516 Beckridge Lane, was traveling 90 mph when he crashed into the back of Shapiro's vehicle at Lead Mine and Strickland roads.

Cook had been drinking at a local country club and at a local tavern prior to the crash, witnesses said.

Prosecutors say the additional charge will give the judge the option to impose a stiffer prison sentence if Cook is convicted at trial.

The Wake County District Attorney's Office offered Cook a plea deal in the case in May, but Cook and his lawyer never agreed to it. A trial in the case is scheduled to begin Nov. 1.

Since the wreck, Cook has surrendered his medical license and has completed a stint at a rehab clinic.

A ballerina with the Carolina Ballet, Shapiro, 20, of Winston-Salem, had been in Raleigh rehearsing for "Swan Lake."

"You can't imagine a bigger tragedy," said Robert Weiss, the artistic director of the Carolina Ballet. "A beautiful, young girl, who's talented and at the prime of her career, getting cut down like that and not having a chance to live her dream."

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  • dldobbins Sep 16, 2010

    As a plastic surgeon, I wonder how many faces, limbs, etc of victims of drunk drivers he has had to fix? As an highly educated person he deserves no excuse for his obviously poor judgment than anyone else. Surrendering his medical license and going to rehab shows remorse which is a big step.

  • luxurytravel Sep 15, 2010

    Wonder why WRAL has so quickly moved this off the home page?????

    Getting pressure from somewhere?

  • Go Figure Sep 15, 2010

    I could not have said it any better BIGUNCFAN!

  • Baybee Doll Sep 15, 2010

    Buffaloemorris, I agree wholeheartedly. He made a mistake but he can't take it back now. This does not make a bad person or a bad doctor. He is a human being. We've all had car accidents before, despite the cause. Have you thought about how bad he must feel right now?

    I encorage the doctor to ignore the negative comments if he reads them and use thus experience to turn his life around.

  • momofthree Sep 15, 2010

    he should be seenticed to lifetime injail for merder and dyi

  • BigUNCFan Sep 15, 2010

    And I honestly think he has no remorse and does not care about the victim. If he did, maybe he would set up a scholarship in her name or not hide behind his lawyers and money. This guy is just sorry he got caught. The good doctor is not so good after all.

    I hope he goes to jail for the rest of his life and that all of his assets are seized and given to the family of the victim.

    But, alas, that will not come to pass. His dream team of lawyers will play up his "disease" of alcoholism and he will get a slap on the wrist and the family will be lucky to see any money from him or his insurance company.

    It is sad when the rich can buy their way out of situations like this.

  • BigUNCFan Sep 15, 2010

    buffaloemorris

    where do I begin???? First, he killed a young lady and that is why this is highlighted. Secondly, if this were a hispanic day laborer, there would not be sympathy from folks like yourself. However, a doctor with a dream team defense can market himself for sympathy.

    Also, it is readily apparent that he had a drinking problem based on the evidence from the past.

    As for his kids reading stuff, so what????? He should have thought of that before killing someone. That is his fault, not the posters who comment on this board.

    I also question whether he is such a talented doctor. He is just the doctor that you knew. That does not make him talented.
    No matter anyhow as he no longer has a liscense to practice so that is good.

  • ckblackm Sep 15, 2010

    Please don't just give this guy a slap on the wrist. I don't care who he is... he killed someone.

  • BigUNCFan Sep 15, 2010

    This guy should have his liscenses both permanently revoked to drive and to practice medicine.

    I am also tired of these new diseases popping up to hide what is essentially a lack of will power. There are fake diseases for overeating, having a crummy personality, gambling, sex addiction, etc. etc. Alcoholism and drug addition are in that category.

    It is all a ploy to get sympathy. Just push the plate away and you won't overeat. Stop drinking at 2 or 3 drinks, stop gambling or playing lotto when you have used up the 10 bucks you stashed away to play with. Don't use recreational drugs. It really is that simple but we want to put a label on it all to make us feel better.

    It is called will power. To say otherwise is to say we cannot as adults control ourselves.

  • Go Figure Sep 15, 2010

    Poor Elena doesn't get the chance to have children. This whole situation is a tragedy from the MOMENT he got in the car that night.

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