Cook's wife takes stand without jury present

February 21, 2011 5:07:48 PM PST
The wife of a former Raleigh doctor, who crashed into a young ballerina and killed her, testified Monday about the night of the accident.Raymond Cook is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 20-year-old Elena Shapiro. Police say Cook was intoxicated and driving more than 80 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone just before he crashed into Shapiro's car on Strickland Road in Raleigh in September of 2009.

Shapiro - of Winston-Salem - was a dancer with the Carolina Ballet.

Cook's wife Gwen Cook took the stand Monday afternoon after the jury was taken out of the courtroom. The defense made it clear in pre-trial motions they wanted the blood evidence thrown out.

They claim Cook's wife tried to witness his blood being drawn - as allowed by the DWI law, but that Raleigh police wouldn't let her.

Gwen Cook's emotions boiled over as she described to the courtroom arriving at WakeMed North Hospital following the accident.

Dr. Cook, who worked as a facial reconstructive expert at the hospital, was taken there to be treated for his injures.

"I'm driving from Leadmine to turn on Strickland and I noticed a car accident," she said.

Gwen Cook says she recognized the Mercedes as her husband's and saw her husband in the back of an ambulance.

"Raymond yelled to go check on the girls, so I went home to do that," she said. "I went inside ... I kissed the girls. I went to their room and kissed the girls. They were already in bed."

Gwen Cook says she asked the babysitter to stay late, called someone to cancel a dinner date and went to the hospital. But when she got there, she says she announced herself and started into her husband's room.

"The three officers turned and kind of locked their hands and started walking me back out the door," she said.

And that was the basis for the defense's motion to disregard Dr. Cook's blood evidence. They say he wanted his wife to witness the blood drawn.

However, the judge ruled that Dr. Cook never requested a witness. So, blood evidence remains part of the case.

One test showed the doctor's blood alcohol level at more than two times the legal limit, the other three times the limit.

Earlier in the day, the officer who first charged Dr. Cook with DWI testified that Cook told him he wasn't drinking and that Shapiro caused the crash.

During the trial, several witnesses have testified that he was drunk - some said very drunk.

There's been testimony that he was drinking at the Raleigh Country Club while playing golf on the day of the accident, then continued to drink at a bar not far from the wreck scene.

But after Cook was taken by ambulance from the scene to WakeMed North, a Raleigh Police officer says he asked the doctor if he had been drinking after he noticed Cook was unsteady on his feet.

"He said he had nothing to drink and he was sober," Raleigh Police Department Officer Bryce Merold said.

The officer also showed jurors a mug shot of Cook taken more than five hours after the crash and noted his bloodshot, glassy eyes.

He says he asked Cook how the crash happened.

"He was going home from golfing and he was traveling on Strickland Road," Merold said. "He stated that the other driver ran the light at the intersection and struck him. He stated that he rendered CPR to the victim after the crash."

But even Cook's attorneys now admit he was the one who hit and killed and 20-year-old Shapiro.

Two of Shapiro's friends also testified Monday morning about the hours surrounding the crash and how they found out about the death of their good friend.

"I came to my apartment and found roommate really upset with her mother and they told me what happened," Ashley Hathaway said.

Testimony will continue Tuesday morning.

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