Local News

Attorneys in Cook murder trial speak out

Posted March 2, 2011 7:15 p.m. EST
Updated April 23, 2013 4:20 p.m. EDT

— 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.