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Jury selection begins for doctor charged in ballerina's death

Posted November 1, 2010
Updated November 2, 2010

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— Jury selection began Monday for a Raleigh doctor charged with murder in a wreck that killed a ballet dancer last year.

Raymond Dwight Cook, a former facial plastic surgeon, is charged with second-degree murder, driving while impaired and felony death by vehicle in the Sept. 11, 2009 wreck that killed Elena Bright Shapiro.

Sixty juror candidates were being considered for the case Monday, and the final jurors should be selected by Tuesday. Family from both sides were in the courtroom for what is expected to be a very emotional trial.

Raymond Cook in court Jury selection begins for doctor charged in ballerina's death

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.

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. Since the wreck, he 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."

202 Comments

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  • HEAFIE200 Nov 2, 2010

    STOP BLAMING THE REAL VICTIM - THE YOUNG GIRL THIS "DOCTOR" KILLED. YOU ALL SICKEN ME WITH MAKING EXCUSES FOR HIM. HE WAS NOT A FIRST TIME OFFENDER WITH DUI'S....AND HE TOOK AN OATH WHEN HE BECAME A DOCTOR - AND BROKE THAT OATH THE FIRST TIME HE GOT BEHIND THE WHEEL AND DROVE DRUNK....AND HE WILL GET HIS LICENSE TO PRACTICE MEDICINE AGAIN - IF THIS WAS SOMEONE WHO HAD A COURT APPOINTED ATTY. THIS WOULD HAVE GONE TO TRIAL - AND OVER WITH BY NOW. NOW THEY ARE DRAGGING OUT ELANA'S FAMILIES PAIN - I'M SICK TO MY STOMACH OVER THIS.

  • sinenomine Nov 2, 2010

    Considering the publicity this story generated when the crash occurred in September of '09 I wonder why WRAL is not covering it any better now? According to the byline the story was last updated on the web at 6:38 p.m. November 1. I am writing this at 10:54 a.m. on November 2. Can it really be that whether B.J. Lawson thought the voice on the line was Morgan Freeman's or not is more important than a doctor's trial for allegedly killing a young woman?

  • jcf2286 Nov 2, 2010

    "...a couple of mistakes" Doodlebug, are you serious??? Too bad STUPID is not a crime, you can be his cell mate.

  • CarolinaGirlRJA Nov 2, 2010

    dodlebug -- I'm glad that Dr. Cook could help you in your time of need. However, it is not his skills/generosity as a doctor that people on here are scrutinizing. Regardless of who a drunk driver is that causes a fatal accident, the same reaction and opinions would apply. Also, it is not a bars responsibility to find a customer a safe way home. It is their responsibility to keep order within the establishment and if a person has had too much, they cut them off. Bar tenders and resteraunt owners are not babysitters. If they were expected to look after every individual who was drunk, they wouldn't have time to do their jobs while at work. It is an individuals responsiblity to take care of themselves and have a plan of action. Nobody forced him to get behind that wheel or to speed. Thus, he must suffer the consequences of his actions.

  • itsmyownopinion Nov 2, 2010

    Thanks for your posts dodlebug. I had heard about the good work Dr. Cook did as a surgeon, and the contributions he had made to those who were disfigured and couldn't pay. It's sad to me that his future service to the community is lost, along with the life of the beautiful girl. It's sad to me that his family is also suffering. I'm glad you're cancer free.

  • Homerun5thgxe Nov 2, 2010

    Doodlebug.
    I can appreciate your bias opinion towards this man because he saved your life. His family does not deserve the trauma he has caused them. But for you to say "do not think he should spend a life time away" is just plain crazy. How many DWI convictions do you need to know it is wrong? He made the choice he should suffer the consequences the unfortunate thing is he has sentenced his family as well. He deserves as much time as he took from the victims family. How many years is that or is her life less valueable? Maybe he should have been calling a cab or you to come drive him home if he is such a caring person.

  • dodlebug4182 Nov 1, 2010

    you know what...nvm, I spent alot of time write a reply and it doesn't matter, you all have your opinions...he saved my life and gave me a life with my family as well as numerous people...he made a mistake and should do time...do not think he should spend a life time away, but that is my opinion. The bars had an obligation to report him to the police or call him a cab and neither did that. That was their job and neither did that. With that said I feel for both families, neither will win at this point. No matter what happens it is a lose lose situation. So, sitting here making stuff up about this man is crazy. Just remember all the things you all have probably done in your life and didn't get caught. Dr.Cook, thank you for saving my life, thank you for calling to check on me even when my case was handed over to someone else, you still called to check on me. I'm cancer free and living life with my family! To the young ladies family, I am very sorry! I do hope justice is served

  • dodlebug4182 Nov 1, 2010

    For those of you who feel the need to trash a man that yes made a couple mistakes...shame on you all. How many of you can sit there and honestly say you haven't gone faster than you should while on the phone, or playing with the radio, or texting or drinking or anything for that matter. People everyday cause fatal accidents. If he wasn't a Dr. would most of you feel as strongly? Probably not if you are an kind of honest person. It is tragic and I am not saying he should do time or serve any sentence, but Dr. Cook made a mistake. With that said, think of all the lives he has saved and made better...for those of you that talk of his drinking problem...the first time it happened he was a very young man. Seems like he is now being charged based on a ticket from then and not just focusing on what the actual crime is. Again, not saying he should serve anytime. Moving on to the next issue I have seen where he left one bar and went to another...as a prior manager of a restaurant and b

  • didisaythat Nov 1, 2010

    Medic, I have seen the effects of alcoholism on many a person from my career and can still say it is no disease. Yes it can be addicting just like drugs, but that is simply a lazy mans excuse. Sorry you don't like my opinion but I try to take responsibility for my actions, good and bad. I cannot use a sorry excuse like it's a disease that's why I can't stop.

  • Oct Nov 1, 2010

    When a car is traveling 90 mph driven by a person who has consumed as much alcohol as he apprently did, it becomes a "deadly weapon". I don't care how much money he has or how good his attorneys are, I feel it will be very difficult to find a jury that will not convict him. I feel sorry for his family, but they can visit him in jail. Elena's family can only visit her grave.

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