Local News

New charge filed against doctor in ballerina's death

Posted September 15, 2010 10:51 a.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2010 6:19 p.m. EDT

— 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."