Confessed killer seeking release will first be evaluated
TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A man who confessed to killing three people with his brother during a murderous rampage in the 1980s and now wants to be released from prison after 20 years must first undergo an evaluation, a judge said Thursday.
That evaluation will determine whether Nathaniel Cook should be classified as a sex offender and required to notify authorities of his address every 90 days if he is released.
It was the first time Cook had been back in the courthouse since he and his older brother, Antony Cook, agreed to a plea deal nearly two decades ago and admitted they were behind nine killings, including a string of eight murders in 1980 and '81.
Some of the victims' family members wiped away tears when Cook, shackled and wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, walked into court alongside two deputies.
Cook, 59, glanced for a second at the group sitting in the front row before turning away.
"I stared him down every minute he was in the courtroom," said Steve Moulton, whose brother was killed by Anthony Cook in 1981.
Moulton hesitated when he thought about why he came to the hearing Thursday. "I guess I'm the voice of my brother," he said.
Cook's attorneys contend the plea deal agreed to with prosecutors and the victims' families in 2000 requires the court to order his release this year.
But the families hope Lucas County Judge Linda Jennings will find a way to stop him from getting out. They've written letters asking that he be kept in prison or at least placed under strict controls if he's released.
Another hearing is set for April 19.
As part of the agreement, Cook confessed to three murders while his brother, Anthony Cook, admitted to killing five other people. Anthony Cook already had been convicted in another killing.
Anthony Cook is serving two life sentences, while Nathaniel Cook's sentence called for his release after 20 years.
The victims' families all agreed to the deal because it guaranteed the brothers would be sent to prison and it gave them answers about who killed their loved ones.
Both brothers admitted to detectives that they first killed a man, raped his girlfriend and tried to kill her in 1980.
Nathaniel Cook confessed that he and his brother were involved in two more killings. He said he strangled a woman they had abducted and that the pair then raped a 12-year-old girl and bludgeoned her with a concrete block.
Cook said that was the last murder he was involved with, even though his brother continued with the killings until he was arrested in 1981.