Local News

Jury selection begins for doctor charged in ballerina's death

Posted November 1, 2010 5:32 a.m. EDT
Updated November 2, 2010 11:37 a.m. EDT

— 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.

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."