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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Antonio Cook

Fair-weather murder witness charged

A man who backed out of an agreement to testify at a fellow gang member's murder trial has been charged with two felonies for his alleged involvement in the slaying.

Antonio E. Cook, 29, appeared in Superior Court Monday on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and first-degree rendering criminal assistance.

He's accused of conspiring with accused killer Edward Lee “T.D.” Thomas to commit the assault that led to the death of John S. Williams, and of helping hide Thomas when he was sought on a first-degree murder charge. DNA found on the rifle used to kill Williams matched Thomas' DNA, according to court documents.

Cook has confessed to providing the weapon to Thomas and has said that Thomas was angry with a gang member who had “disrespected him,” according to court documents.

Thomas was driven from the murder scene by Cedric E. “Dirty” Burton, who is in prison for rendering criminal assistance. Police say Thomas went to Cook's house after the shooting and stayed there until the next day.

Police wanted Cook charged with second-degree murder under the state's accomplice law, but prosecutors instead opted for the assault charge.

It's the third felony case filed against Cook since June, after it became clear he would not be testifying against Thomas, who's to stand trial Aug. 22.

Cook already is due to serve 22 months after pleading guilty in May to unrelated third-degree assault and witness tampering charges. He's already awaiting sentencing after a jury convicted him last week of first-degree burglary, fourth-degree assault and witness tampering for an unrelated domestic violence case.

Man gets 22 mos after refusing to testify

A man was sentenced to just under two years in prison Tuesday after reneging on his promise to testify in two shootings.

Antonio E. Cook Jr., 29, previously pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and witness tampering in cases unrelated to the two shootings, and Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla agreed to dismiss the charges in exchange for his testimony.

Cook has since refused to testify, Cipolla said, so the charges were reinstated and he pleaded guilty.  Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza sentenced Cook to 22 months in prison Tuesday.

Cook was a witness to the July 2009 shooting that injured two women. Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious was convicted of second-degree assault, which was his third strike and resulted in a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In the other case, John S. “Q” Williams was shot to death on Jan. 17, 2010. Alleged triggerman Edward “TD” Thomas, 25, and six other people have been charged in the investigation, which was assisted by Cook’s statements to police.

Cook testfied at Lucious' trial, but Thomas' trial hasn't happened yet.

Lawyer: Shooting suspect wrongly accused

A Spokane man facing life in prison for a July 2009 shooting may be wrongly accused, his lawyer told jurors during closing arguments Wednesday .

Police halted their investigation into the shooter’s identity after the alleged victims identified Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious (right) as the gunman, said public defender Steven Reich.

Nearly a year after the shooting, authorities learned that another man - possibly armed with a .45 handgun - was with the women. But the group had lied about Antonio E. Cook’s presence because his probation prohibited from being out after 10 p.m. and “they would have continued to lie had it not been discovered,” Reich said.

“They haven’t earned your trust,” Reich told jurors.

Reich suggested that Cook fired, likely on accident, the shots that injured Donna M. Dansby and Zsaja J. Branch.

Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said Reich may wish a .45 was present during the shooting, but the evidence just doesn’t support that claim.

Jurors are to continue deliberations this morning. Lucious is charged with six counts of attempted murder; first-degree assault is included as an alternative charge.

His defense focuses on what Reich said is a shaky case built on testimony from women who may be protecting the real shooter.

Though most witnesses said Cook (left) did not have a gun, one said he did, and Reich said it was likely the others were lying to protect Cook. He pointed to what Branch told doctors at the hospital - that she’d been shot with a .45.

“How would she know?” Reich said.

Police have said Lucious used a 9 mm handgun in the shooting.

Cipolla said in his rebuttal that if Branch had rally been shot in the chest with a .45 “she would have been split in half.”

Superior Court Judge Annette Plese sustained Reich’s objection because no experts ever testified about the impact of a .45.

Reich told jurors that Cook has been convicted of crimes that contest his character, including witness tampering and theft. He reminded jurors that Cook was forced to testify, despite Lucious allegedly trying to kill Branch, who is the mother of Cook’s daughter. He also pointed out that Cook fled the shooting scene despite Branch being rushed to a hospital with life-threatening injuries.

Cipolla said the facts of the case speak for themselves.

“This man right here used a gun on a car full of women for no apparent reason,” Cipolla said.

The jury deliberated for about an hour Wednesday afternoon and will be back at the courthouse at 9 a.m. today.

If convicted of attempted murder or the lesser charge, first-degree assault, Lucious will be sentenced to life in prison without parole because he already has two violent crime convictions.

Jurors are not allowed to know his possible punishment, but Reich emphasized that “any decision you make will have a a longstanding impact on Mr. Lucious.”

A codefendant, Michael R. Gardner, pleaded guilty to third-degree assault in January and was credited for time served.

Past coverage:

Sept. 14: Shooting proceeded fight w/ heeled shoes, butcher knife

State could rest today in 3-strikes trial

Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla expects to wrap up his case against Timothy “Stoney Boy” Lucious today after testimony from four or five witnesses, including a man authorities apparently didn’t know was connected to the July 2009 shooting until a few months ago. 

Antonio E. Cook, Jr., 29, (left) was with a group of women when they drove to meet another group for a fight early July 24 to settle a dispute that began at a north side bar. Two of the women testified Monday that they’d brought Cook along for “protection” during the fight.

But the women hadn’t told investigators about Cook until long after Lucious’ arrest, according to court testimony. Lucious’ lawyer, Steve Reich, said repeatedly that Cook was known to carry a .45 handgun.

Lucious, who already has two convictions for violent crimes under the state’s three strikes law, faces six counts of attempted first-degree murder and one count of drive-by shooting for the shooting on July 24, 2009. First-degree assault is listed as an alternative charge. The trial opened Monday before a jury of eight women and five men (one juror is an alternate). As is customary, jurors are not allowed to know Lucious’ possible punishment.

Lucious (right, in 2009) wore black slacks, black shoes and a white pine striped shirt with buzzed hair and a beard and mustache.

Witnesses included alleged attempted-murder victim, 18-year-old Ebony Branch, who said she didn’t tell police about Cook, the father of her sister’s baby, because Cook was prohibited from being out after 10 p.m. by the state Department of Corrections.

Reich said Branch didn’t tell him that during an interview in March, either.

Branch said she didn’t tell investigators until “a couple of months ago” but denied conspiring with the other women to hide Cook’s involvement.

Testimony from Branch and another alleged victim, Donna M. Dansby, portrayed a wild fight between several women that led to a showdown in a park on the lower South Hill, near 7th and Newark.

Dansby testified that she removed her heeled shoes and used them as weapons while charging a woman who later grabbed a butcher knife after spitting a razor blade from her mouth. Dansby and her friends then traveled from the bar to an after party, where they met the women again and agreed to meet at the park for a fight.

When they arrived at the park, Lucious was there with a gun, Branch said. Lucious fired several shots at the car as they drove away, Branch testified, then was still there with the gun when they realized they’d forgotten Zsaja J. Branch, Ebony’s older sister.

They turned around to picked her up, and Zsaja was shot by Lucious as she ran to the car, Ebony Branch testified.

Branch was shot in the chest and survived, though police initially considered the wound life threatening, according to court documents. Dansby was shot in the arm during the melee but testified that she doesn’t remember how it happened.

Testimony is scheduled to resume today at 9:15 after Cook, also a witness in the John S. Williams murder case, is sentenced in a separate case.

Witness in gang murder agrees to secret deal

A witness in a gang-related murder pleaded guilty to two charges this morning in a sealed agreement with prosecutors.

Antonio E. Cook, Jr., 28, (left) will remain in jail pending sentencing, which was not immediately scheduled.

The deal drops several charges, including robbery, gun and drug possession, but those charges can be refiled if Cook doesn’t comply with the deal, Spokane County Deputy Prosecutor Mark Cipolla said in court.

Cook waived his right to a speedy sentencing; his public defender said it won’t happen for at least 40 days. Details of his sentencing recommendation have not been made public.

Cook first answered “no” when Superior Court Judge Neal Rielly asked if he was making the plea freely and voluntarily but then said otherwise.

“I wanna take advantage of what’s going on right now and get it over with,” Cook said.

Rielly questioned Cook repeatedly, saying “whether you like the system or respect the system” he wouldn’t accept the plea if Cook was being pressured. Cook pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness and third-degree assault.

He was arrested in February after police found his fingerprints on the stolen gun used to kill John S. Williams on Jan. 17, though he isn’t believed to have been present when Williams was killed. Cook later threatened a teen who was cooperating with police, leading to the tampering conviction. 

Cook’s assault charge was for an unrelated incident in September when Cook punched a woman after she fought with him and a friend over a sexually suggestive text message the friend had sent her, according to court documents. The woman’s boyfriend saw the messages, documents say.

Court documents show Cook is a key witness in the case against several reputed gang members charged in Williams’ death.

Police say he told them that accused triggerman Edward “TD” Thomas (right) admitted to shooting Williams six or seven times before firing a single round into his face at close range.

Thomas is a fugitive wanted for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Past coverage:

June 3: Seven charged in January gang murder

March 9: Homicide case ‘not a simple investigation’

Witness in 2 gang crimes sought by police

A witness in criminal cases against two reputed Spokane gangsters hasn’t been staying in contact with court officials, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for tips that help arrest her.

Summer R. Abrahamson, 32, is to testify in the upcoming attempted-murder trial of Timothy Lucious, who faces life in prison under the three-strikes law for a shooting last summer.

Abrahamson also is the alleged victim in a first-degree robbery and second-degree assault case against Antono E. Cook, Jr., 29.

Cook is accused of punching Abrahamson and stealing a knife Sept. 6 in a fight over a sexually suggestive text message, according to court documents. Cook also is charged with illegally possessing the gun used in the Jan 17 murder of John S. Williams.

In Lucious’s case, Abrahamson was with a group of women when a fight that began at a bar festered at a party, then erupted on the other side of the city with two women shot and another punched unconscious. Lucious is the alleged shooter.

Prosecutors want Abrahamson jailed to assure her presence at trial.

“Based on her numerous unfavorable contacts with law enforcement and the courts, it is doubtful she would voluntarily appear for trial,” according to court documents.

Abrahamson has previous convictions for robbery, drugs, assault and malicious mischief.

A $100,000 material witness warrant was issued April 23. Crime Stoppers offered a reward for tips on her location this week.

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS, or submit tips online here.

Man arrested on robbery, gun, drug charges

The Spokane police gang unit arrested a man wanted on a robbery charge and other felony warrants today.

Antonio E. “J-Rock” Cook, Jr., 29, is accused of punching a woman on Sept. 6 after she fought with him and a friend over sexually suggestive text message the friend had sent her, according to court documents.

The woman’s boyfriend saw the messages, documents say.

Cook allegedly stole a knife from the woman after punching her, leading to a first-degree robbery charge.

He posted $10,000 bail in November, but a warrant was issued this week and police were looking for tips on his location. Cook also had warrants for unlawful possession of a firearm, possession of a controlled substance and bail jumping.

To be filed in the “small world” category, the victim told police she knew Cook because his girlfriend had been a victim with her in shooting earlier in the year.

That’s the shooting from back in June that started across town. One man arrested in the case pleaded guilty to a third-degree assault charge but is back in jail, accused of a stabbing last month. The accused shooter, Timothy Lucious, is in jail awaiting trial. (Read more here.)

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