Witness: Doctor ran red light before hitting ballerina

Raymond Cook listens to testimony Wednesday February 23.

February 23, 2011 9:12:13 AM PST
A Raleigh police officer testified Wednesday that an eyewitness told him Dr. Raymond Cook was travelling well over 70 miles-per-hour and ran a red light the night his Mercedes plowed into the back of a car driven by 20-year-old Elena Shapiro.

Cook - a former plastic surgeon at WakeMed - is charged with second-degree murder, felony death by motor vehicle, and driving while impaired in the death of Shapiro - an aspiring dancer with the Carolina Ballet. Police say Cook was intoxicated when he crashed into Shapiro's car on Strickland Road on September 11, 2009.

Shapiro had just turned onto Strickland from Lead Mine Road when she was hit from behind. Previous witnesses have testified that Cook drank alcohol while playing golf at the Raleigh Country Club the day of the crash and went from the club to Piper's Tavern where a bartender cut him off after noticing he was intoxicated.

During Officer Chris Bradford's testimony Wednesday, multiple pictures of Shapiro's crushed car were shown to the jury. He also said a radar detector - used to avoid police speed sensors - was found in Cook's Mercedes.

Bradford also interviewed staffers at Piper's where a customer described Cook as falling down drunk. Testimony has shown that Cook's tested blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit for driving.

Bradford told jurors the management of Piper's was welcoming and gave him everything he requested, but he said the management of the Raleigh Country Club was not cooperative. Bradford said management refused access to records and wouldn't allow interviews with employees.

Police say Cook was driving more than 80 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone just before he crashed into Shapiro's car. On Tuesday, jurors heard from a Mercedes expert, about the "fault codes" left in the computer in the doctor's car at the time of the crash.

Mercedes mechanic Steven Lewis told the courtroom that the fault code was set at 88 miles per hour.

Following the crash, Cook gave up his medical license and left positions he once held at WakeMed and the UNC School of Medicine. According to WakeMed hospital's website, Cook was a facial reconstructive expert.

ABC11 has confirmed that the 2009 crash was not the first time Cook had been charged with going well over the speed limit while intoxicated.

In 1989 in Camden County, Georgia, he was stopped for doing 110 in 65 miles-per-hour zone. He was also charged with DWI.

Court records in North Carolina show that same year he was charged with DWI in this state, but the charges were dropped.

Three years earlier, he was charged with driving too fast for conditions.

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