Andrew Cook, Michele Cartegena, Grant Hendrickson

Posted in The Death Penalty by chamblee54 on February 19, 2013





On February 21, the state of Georgia is scheduled to execute G.D.C. prisoner number 0000963560, Andrew Allen Cook. Mr. Cook was convicted of killing Michelle Cartagena, 19, and Grant Hendrickson, 20. The star witness at his trial was his father, F.B.I. agent John Cook.

There seems little doubt that Mr. Cook was the killer. The inevitable death row appeals made the traditional argument that the counsel in the first trial was insufficient. On March 10, 2010, the courts ruled that the execution could proceed.

In 2002, a lower court overturned Cook’s death sentence in the ambush shooting of Grant Hendrickson, 22, and Michele Cartagena, 19. . … The lower court found that Cook’s court-appointed defense attorney, Kevin A. Wangerin, failed to present evidence of mental illness that might have spared Cook from the death sentence.

In February at the Georgia Supreme Court, assistant Attorney General Beth Attaway Burton argued that the lower court incorrectly applied the standard of defense competence. She said allowing the jury to hear testimony on Cook’s mental state would likely have hurt the defense. Attorney Thomas Howard Dunn, representing Cook’s appeal, said several psychiatrists found that Cook suffered from major depression and suicidal tendencies, beginning at age 9, and he said Wangerin failed to ensure the psychiatric experts who evaluated Cook were aware of this.

In today’s ruling the Supreme Court concluded Cook’s lawyer made a strategic decision not to offer mental health evidence because it would have hurt his case. “In light of the negative evidence contained within the mental health records concerning Cook’s criminal history and the experts’ conclusions regarding malingering and manipulation by Cook, we conclude, as a matter of law, that counsel’s strategic choice to forgo the presentation of mental health evidence was not unreasonable based on the information they actually obtained,” the opinion states.

The Court opinion on the habeus corpus petition can cause brain damage to non legally minded people. Here is the court’s version of what happened to Miss Cartagena, Mr. Hendrickson, and the Cooks.

At approximately midnight on January 2, 1995, Mercer University students Hendrickson and Cartagena were parked on a small peninsula known as “the Point,” which juts into Lake Juliette in Monroe County, north of Macon. Cook drove onto the Point, parked his Honda CRX near Hendrickson’s and Cartagena’s car, and shot them. Cook fired fourteen times with an AR-15 rifle from a distance of about forty feet and then moved closer and fired five times with a nine millimeter Ruger handgun. Hendrickson and Cartagena were each hit multiple times and killed. Cook then went to the passenger side of the victims’ car, removed Cartagena, and dragged her about 40 feet. He partially undressed her, knelt between her legs, and spit on her. Cook then drove away. The murders were completely random: Cook did not know the victims and there was no interaction between Cook and the victims before he killed them.

Several people parking or camping around Lake Juliette heard the shots, and the murders were reported to the police the next morning when some campers found the bodies. A couple parked near the Point when the shots were fired said they saw a 1980s-model Honda CRX parked near the entrance to Lake Juliette. Later, they saw headlights going onto the Point, heard shots, and observed the CRX speeding away from the Point. The police recovered .223 caliber and nine millimeter bullets and shell casings from the crime scene, and the State Crime Lab reported that the weapons used in the murders were probably an AR-15 rifle and a nine millimeter Ruger handgun. There was saliva mixed with tobacco dried on Cartagena’s leg, and the Crime Lab extracted DNA from the saliva. The police began looking for suspects who chewed tobacco, matched the DNA taken from the saliva, and owned or had access to a Honda CRX, an AR-15 rifle, and a nine millimeter Ruger pistol.

The investigation lasted almost two years. Many people were interviewed and dozens of suspects were excluded after they submitted blood or saliva samples to the Crime Lab, or allowed their weapons to be examined by a state firearms expert. In the fall of 1996, GBI Agent Randy Upton began tracking the purchasers of AR-15 rifles in the Macon area. He obtained a list of 108 people who bought AR-15 rifles from 1985 to 1995 from one of Macon’s most popular gun stores, and he started calling them and asking if they would give saliva samples and allow examinations of their rifles. On November 27, 1996, Agent Upton contacted Cook. Agent Upton told Cook he was conducting an investigation into the Lake Juliette murders and that Cook owned an AR-15 rifle in 1994 and 1995. Cook replied that he had “gotten rid of” his AR-15 in April 1994. Agent Upton stated that that was not possible because the records show that Cook did not buy his AR-15 until August 1994. Cook then became defensive and stated that his father was an FBI agent, and he did not have to cooperate. Agent Upton asked for a saliva sample, and Cook said he needed to talk with his father before giving a saliva sample. The conversation ended.

Agent Upton learned that Cook pawned his AR-15 rifle back to the gun store in May 1995, five months after the murders. The police also discovered that Cook had an acquaintance purchase a nine millimeter Ruger handgun for him in December 1993 at the same gun store, because Cook was too young to buy it himself. Cook sold the Ruger to a friend in July 1995. The police sought to obtain these weapons from their current owners. They also learned that Cook owned a 1987 Honda CRX at the time of the murders.

One of Cook’s friends, who worked with Cook at a diaper factory, testified that in late November 1996 he and Cook had a conversation about “the worst thing you ever did.” Cook said he had killed someone with an AR-15. The friend did not believe Cook, but asked why he did it. Cook replied that he did it “to see if I could do it and get away with it.” Cook refused to provide any more details. The friend testified that the following day at work, Cook received a call on his pager, and left his work area to return the call. Cook returned 15 minutes later and was “as white as a ghost.” Cook said “I got to go,” and spit the tobacco he had been chewing into a trash can. Cook said it was the GBI who had called and they wanted to question him about what he and the friend had talked about the day before, and test his saliva. He said, regarding the saliva, “that’s a DNA test right there, so they got my ass.” Another friend testified that Cook told him in late November 1996 that he needed to leave town because it was “getting hot.”

After going to Cook’s home and not finding him, Agent Upton called Cook’s father, John Cook, on December 4, 1996. John Cook was an FBI agent and had been an FBI agent for 29 years. Agent Upton said he needed to ask Cook a few questions regarding the Lake Juliette murders, and asked John Cook for assistance in locating him. John Cook said he could probably contact his son. John Cook, who knew about the case from the media, testified that he did not think his son was a suspect.

John Cook paged his son several times and at 11:00 p.m. Cook returned his calls. John Cook told his son the GBI was looking for him concerning the Lake Juliette murders and asked him if he knew anything about them. Cook replied, “Daddy, I can’t tell you, you’re one of them . . . you’re a cop.” John Cook said he was his father first and, believing his son may have been a witness, asked Cook if he was there during the shooting. Cook said yes. John Cook asked his son if he saw who shot them, and Cook replied yes. Although he still thought “maybe he was just there and saw who shot them,” John Cook asked his son if he shot them. After a pause, Cook said yes. Cook told his father he was fishing at Lake Juliette and had an argument with the male victim. The male victim threatened him with a gun, and Cook shot the victims in self-defense. Cook realized that the male victim had only threatened him with a pellet gun, and he threw the pellet gun into the woods. John Cook urged his son to go to the authorities but Cook said he was going to “just disappear.” John Cook worried that his son was going to kill himself.

John Cook was stunned by what his son had told him. After speaking with his wife, he called his friend and FBI supervisor, Tom Benson, who was at a conference in New Orleans. He and Benson decided that Benson would fly back to Georgia the next day and the two men would go to Monroe County Sheriff John Bittick, and John Cook would tell the sheriff what his son had told him. They arrived at the Monroe County sheriff’s office at about 4:00 p.m. on December 5, 1996.

At about 11:45 a.m. on December 5, 1996, Cook was arrested by a game warden for shooting deer and turkeys out of season and giving a false name. He was taken to the Jones County sheriff’s office. Agent Upton, who did not know about Cook’s admission to his father, learned that Cook was being held in Jones County for game violations. He drove to Jones County to question Cook about the Lake Juliette murders. When Agent Upton introduced himself and asked to speak with him about the murders, Cook blurted, “it’s been two years since the murders and you guys don’t have anything; I had a CRX; I had an AR-15; I had a Ruger P89; you guys are going to try to frame me.” Cook added, “get my father and get me a lawyer and I’ll tell you what you want to hear.” The interview terminated. Agent Upton subsequently learned from Sheriff Bittick that John Cook was in Monroe County, and that Cook had made an admission to his father the night before. Agent Upton transported Cook to Monroe County.

After Cook arrived at the Monroe County sheriff’s office, John Cook asked Sheriff Bittick if he could speak with his son, and the sheriff agreed. Cook and his father had a private meeting. Both men were crying and John Cook hugged his son. John Cook told his son he did not believe that he told the whole truth on the phone. Cook replied that there was no pellet gun, that “I pulled in, the car was already there, and I just stopped and shot them.” Cook then dragged the female victim from the car to make it look like an assault or robbery. John Cook testified at trial about his son’s admissions.

The police recovered from the current owners the AR-15 rifle and nine millimeter Ruger handgun that Cook owned in January 1995. Ballistics testing revealed that they were the murder weapons. Cook’s DNA matched the DNA extracted from the saliva on Cartagena’s leg; the state DNA expert testified that only one in twenty thousand Caucasians would exhibit the same DNA profile.

Pictures are from The Library of Congress. The images are Union soldiers from the War Between the States. This story was written like H. P. Lovecraft.

UPDATE: The fishwrapper reports “The State Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday denied Andrew Allen Cook’s request that they commute his death sentence to life without parole, stopping his execution set for Thursday evening for a 1995 double murder.” (?) However, the Georgia Court of Appeals stopped the execution of Warren Hill, scheduled for Tuesday, because of concerns about the method of execution. Stay tuned. UPDATE TWOAndrew Cook died at 11:22pm February 21, 2013.





5 Responses

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  1. Eleventh Hour « Chamblee54 said, on February 19, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    […] to favor alternating black and white prisoners when it comes to excutions. Perhaps that is why Andrew Cook is going to get strapped into the goner gurney thursday night. Governor Deal will get two notches […]

  2. Kill Warren Hill | Chamblee54 said, on July 11, 2013 at 4:48 am

    […] is African American. So are many of the men on death row, many with worse crimes than Mr. Hill. The last man executed by Georgia was white. The state seems to execute a white man for every black man. While racial […]

  3. […] McCain ~ Brandon Rhode ~ Emmanuel Hammond ~ Roy Blankenship ~ Andrew Grant DeYoung ~ Troy Davis ~ Andrew Cook This discussion is based on these ten men. It does not cover the time before the civil rights […]

  4. Hmm said, on April 21, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    What do these Civil War photos have to do with this case?

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