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State, defense rest in Raymond Cook murder trial

Posted February 24, 2011

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— The state and defense rested their cases Thursday in the trial of Raymond Cook, a former facial plastic surgeon charged with second-degree murder in the Sept. 11, 2009, wreck that killed Elena Bright Shapiro, 20.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will present their closing arguments Friday morning, and jurors could begin deliberating that afternoon.

Cook told the judge Thursday that he did not want to testify. His defense attorneys also decided not to call any other witnesses. In a routine motion, defense attorneys asked the judge to dismiss the case based on insufficient evidence, which the judge denied. 

Before the state rested its case, prosecutors brought Shapiro's mother, Brantly Shapiro, to the stand briefly to testify. She told the jury which members of her family were in the courtroom – her husband, eldest daughter and son – and identified two pictures of her youngest daughter.

"It's my baby, Elena," she said, holding the pictures.

Jurors spent most of the day Thursday listening to testimony from Raleigh police officer and crash reconstruction expert Chris Bradford. Defense attorneys challenged his crash reconstruction techniques and accused investigators of making too many assumptions.

Bradford testified Wednesday that Cook was traveling at least 75 to 82 mph when he crashed into Shapiro's Hyundai Elantra at Strickland and Lead Mine roads. The posted speed limit in that area is 45 mph.

An emergency room doctor testified last week that Cook's blood-alcohol concentration was 0.24. An alcohol testing expert testified Tuesday that Cook's blood-alcohol concentration may have been closer to 0.20. Defense attorneys argue that scientific standard deviation could drop that number to 0.17.

Under North Carolina law, a driver is considered impaired with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08.

Witnesses have testified that Cook drank alcohol at the Raleigh Country Club and later at Piper's Tavern prior to the fatal crash.

Defense attorneys haven’t denied that Cook had been drinking but contended in opening statements last week that he’s innocent of second-degree murder because of his attempt to help Shapiro after the crash.

Prosecutors have contended that, because Cook had been drinking, the wreck was not an accident.

Prosecutors offered Cook a plea deal in May, but he and his lawyer never agreed to it. Since the wreck, he surrendered his medical license and completed a stint at a rehab clinic.

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  • joekathyjoekathy Feb 25, 2011

    I found it interesting that the defense's only tacktic was to question the BAC and speed, does it matter? .16 vrs .24.. 77 mph verses 60 ish.. Both still apply to drunk an speeding. Still either of which would apply.. You eaither ARE speeding and drunk or you are not. The defense couldnt proove not drunk or not speeding. Dr. Cook, needs to go away along long time. Drunk & Driving is = to NO DEFENSE.

  • TeresaBee Feb 25, 2011

    Wral just posted a new post on the home page if you want to start commenting there. Just sayin.

  • anastasia Feb 25, 2011

    I'm thinking the plea deal offered included prison time, and dr. cook didn't think he deserved *any* prison time. The way I understand it, if cook gets anything over 365 days, that's done in prison. Under one year, one does their time in jail. If I'm wrong, someone please correct me.

  • Miscellaneous Feb 25, 2011

    NYAX - specifically, as a juror, I would have liked to have heard from ms carr, the mysterious 'makeout' other women (if it wasn't ms carr), the golf buddies, and confirmation of speed / other data from the hyundai. As discussed earlier, ms hale's timeline is out of sync. It has been, and will continue to be that he drank, drove, and hit... this is all about 2nd vs involuntary. The rest (other 2) of charges will stand.

  • NYAXENT Feb 25, 2011

    Misc: Candidly, I didn't see a lot in the way of gaps from the prosec. We learned a little about blood alcohol testing and a few aspects of accident recon. (the only thing that was a bit of a stretch for me, at least, was the hitting the curb prior to the wreck)...Now, if there was some piece of hard evidence the wheel/tire that they produced was from cook--I missed that. Ultimately what we saw (and what was reinforced) was that someone died because someone else made a bad decision to drink and drive...What gaps did you note?

  • Miscellaneous Feb 25, 2011

    NYAX - agreed. He seems impartial

  • shortcake53 Feb 25, 2011

    GOLO wasnt making irrelevant comments Misc.,that was all YOU.

  • NYAXENT Feb 25, 2011

    And as for a strategic choice for having this judge....I haven't seen where he's cut the defense any latitude to speak of

  • shortcake53 Feb 25, 2011

    YAY no more stupid comments from misc!!

  • Miscellaneous Feb 25, 2011

    and oh, BTW shorty, it was GOLO who thought it was out line, not me, and GOLO seems to have allowed all of mine to come through....

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