Saturday, August 25, 2012

Arizona executed man who represented himself at trial

The 26th Execution of 2012

Arizona executed Daniel Wayne Cook on Auust 8, 2012.  He was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the 1987 strangulation murders in Lake Havasu City of 26-year-old Carlos Cruz-Ramos and 16-year-old Kevin Swaney, according to ABC15.

His execution by injection was Arizona's fifth so far this year, and more could be scheduled. The most Arizona has conducted in a year was seven in 1999.

The execution started at 10:26 a.m. and Cook was pronounced dead at 11:03 a.m.

Cook's last meal consisted of eggplant lasagna and vegetables, root beer and ice cream.

Cook's last words were an apology to the victims' families.

"I'd like to say sorry to the victim's family. I know that's not enough... (significant pause)... Where am I? To my lawyers, thank you. Red Robin, yum. I'm done. I love you".

Swaney's brother, Shean Stewart, apologized to his siblings before saying with choked tears, "I felt sorry for him."

Cook, 51, spent nearly half of his life on death row. He avoided being executed in April 2011 when the U.S. Supreme Court just one day before a scheduled execution date ordered a stay to allow consideration of an appeal, reported ABC15.

That appeal, based on a claim of ineffective legal representation early in Cook's appeals process, was later denied.

Court documents say Cook and Matzke were drunk and high on methamphetamine when they stole about $90 from Cruz-Ramos, a Guatemalan immigrant. After Cruz-Ramos confronted the two, they overpowered him, gagged him and tied him to a chair. Cruz-Ramos was then tortured, raped and murdered.

Swaney arrived at the apartment hours later. He was raped and murdered after he was shown Cruz-Ramos' body stuffed in a closet.

Cook represented himself during his trial and sentencing after concluding that his defense lawyer wasn't competent, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it was Cook's decision to not present sentencing evidence.

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