Cooke guilty in retrial
Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 03:04
For the second time, James Cooke Jr. was found guilty in the 2005 rape and murder of then-university sophomore Lindsey Bonistall.
Just over a month after his retrial began, Cooke was found guilty on Friday on 10 of the 11 counts with which he was charged, evading only a theft charge. The jury will begin deliberating Cooke’s sentence on Wednesday.
In May 2005, Bonistall was found raped and strangled in her bathtub during an investigation of a fire in her Towne Court apartment, now called the Studio Green Student Village. Cooke, now 41, lived minutes away from Bonistall at the time, and set the apartment ablaze in an attempt to destroy evidence at the crime scene.
During his first trial in 2007, Cooke was found guilty on all 11 counts, but the decision was overturned by the Delaware Supreme Court two years later. A plea of “guilty but mentally ill” was entered by Cooke’s representation, despite the defendant’s objection.
During this year’s retrial, Cooke chose to represent himself, but lost that right after multiple outbursts over the course of the jury selection process and the first three days in court. Cooke called Superior Court Judge Charles H. Toliver IV “evil,” claimed the proceedings were racially biased and told the judge that he was “going to hell,” according to court reports .
Wilmington-based attorneys Anthony Figliola and Peter Veith, who were appointed Cooke’s standby counsel before the trial began, then took over the proceedings.
Bonistall’s mother Kathleen plans to speak at the Crime Victim’s Tribute, held as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, in Dover on April 25. The program will feature artwork, poems and letter honoring crime victims and survivors. Students can register online to reserve a seat on a free bus that will travel from the Trabant University Center to Dover.