Daniel Wayne Cook, a death row inmate awaiting his court-imposed date with death for the last 24 years -- in an Arizona prison on the taxpayer's dime -- is one step closer to being strapped to the executioner's table.
This morning, the United States Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Cook requesting that his death sentence be overturned.
Cook was convicted of murder for the 1987 strangling deaths of two men in Lake Havasu City. He reportedly raped and tortured the men before murdering them.
live life to the max and never ever regret anything that made u smile :-)
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of execution Monday for Daniel Wayne Cook, who was scheduled to be put to death this morning in Florence for torturing, sodomizing and murdering two men in 1987.
The Arizona Department of Corrections canceled the execution Monday afternoon after the high court's action.
Cook's attorneys recently had petitioned state and local courts, to no avail, regarding the state's questionable importation from England of one of the drugs expected to be used in the execution. On Monday, Cook's lawyers filed a petition regarding the same issue with the U.S. Supreme Court.
The stay, however, was based on a petition arguing that Cook did not have effective legal counsel during appeals of his conviction and sentence.
During his trial, Cook fired his court-appointed attorney and defended himself. After his conviction in 1988, he failed - or did not know enough - to present mitigating evidence from his life that might have prompted the trial judge to impose a life sentence instead of death. The appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court claims that Cook's appellate lawyers should have argued that point.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy issued the stay pending the high court's review of the petition and a decision whether to hear the case. Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles Ryan sent an e-mail to prospective execution witnesses, saying, "The execution is delayed indefinitely - probably until fall."
Cook, 49, was beaten, raped and emotionally abused from the time he was an infant until his late teens, court records indicate.
Court records give the following account of Cook's experiences growing up:
When Cook was 5 months old, his father burned his penis with a cigarette. He was sexually abused by his mother and an older stepbrother.
When he was only 5 or 6, his stepgrandfather forced Cook to have sex with his older sister and photographed them in the act.
When Cook was 14, his mother turned him over to California to live in a group home. One of the home's staffers, now serving a 214-year prison sentence for sex offenses, would handcuff Cook naked to a bed and let others watch through one-way glass as he raped him.
When Cook finally left the group home, he resorted to prostitution. He drank and used drugs. He was hospitalized several times for depression and psychosis, and attempted suicide more than once. He lived as a transient before landing in Lake Havasu City, where his mother lived.
There, he worked briefly as a cook in a restaurant, and he shared an apartment with two co-workers, John Matzke, 29, and Carlos Cruz Ramos, 26.
Sometime over the weekend of July 18-19, 1987, Cook quit his job and started drinking and smoking crystal meth with Matzke.
On July 19, Cook and Matzke decided to steal money from Cruz Ramos.
While Matzke distracted Cruz Ramos, Cook took about $90 from Cruz Ramos' money pouch.
Cruz Ramos confronted his roommates. They overpowered him, stripped him naked and tied him to a bed in Cook's bedroom.
One or both sodomized him, beat him with a pipe, cut him with a knife, burned his genitals and stomach with cigarettes, and put a staple through his foreskin.
According to court records, Cook was ranting incoherently about the CIA and Sandinista rebels and accusing Cruz Ramos of being a spy. Cook suggested killing Cruz Ramos at midnight, "the witching hour."
The men tried to strangle Cruz Ramos with a sheet, and finally Matzke put the pipe over Cruz Ramos' throat and stood on both ends until he was dead. Then, they dumped his body in a closet.
Two hours later, Kevin Swaney, a 16-year-old runaway who worked with the men in the restaurant, came to the apartment.
Cook showed him the body in the closet, then tied him up and stripped and sodomized him before strangling him with his bare hands.
They threw his body in the closet on top of Cruz Ramos.
A day later, at another friend's urging, Matzke went to the police.
When he was arrested, Cook told police, "We got to partying. Things got out of hand. Now, two people are dead."
Matzke was allowed to plead guilty to second-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against Cook.
Matzke was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was released in 2007.
Cook went to trial in Mohave County Superior Court, but fired his lawyer and decided to defend himself.
He was convicted on July 6, 1988, and then, still acting as his own lawyer, he failed to present mitigating evidence that might have persuaded a judge to impose a life sentence.
Cook asked the judge to sentence him to death and the judge granted his request on Aug. 8, 1988.
The conviction and sentence were upheld by the Arizona and U.S. Supreme Courts, but Cook's current attorneys at the Federal Public Defender's Office in Phoenix maintain that his various appeals filed between 1997 and 2009 failed because of ineffective counsel. That is the question now before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Several things could happen:
- The high court could refuse to hear the case, and then the state would have to seek a new death warrant.
- The court could decide to hear the case and determine that Cook's conviction and sentence stand. Once again, the state would have to request a new death warrant.
- The court could send the case back to the state for a new trial or a new sentencing trial to choose between a life or death sentence.
The U.S. Supreme Court could also decide to revisit the drug issue.
live life to the max and never ever regret anything that made u smile :-)
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