Case against Chris Cook goes to jury
Chris Cook (Kevin Brown/Viking Update)
Chris Cook (Kevin Brown/Viking Update)
VikingUpdate.com
Posted Mar 14, 2012


The felony assault charges against Vikings cornerback Chris Cook went to the jury, which deliberated for 2½ hours before heading home Wednesday without a verdict.

The domestic assault case against Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook went to the jury Wednesday after attorneys for both sides clashed over whether he choked his then-girlfriend – or simply tried to defend himself during a fight last October.

Jurors deliberated for about 2½ hours on Wednesday afternoon before going home for the day. Cook, 25, is charged with domestic assault by strangulation and third-degree assault in the incident with Chantel Baker, 21, of Norfolk, Va.

Both are felony counts and carry the possibility of prison time. Prosecutors say that if he’s convicted, he likely faces only probation under the state’s sentencing guidelines because he had no prior felony record.

In closing arguments, Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Liz Cutter told the jury, “We are here today because of the defendant’s rage. We are here today because the defendant strangled Chantel Baker.”

Defense lawyer John Lucas countered, telling jurors Cook defended himself against an angry young woman who had been drinking leading up to the fight. Lucas argued that the state’s case was a mishmash of phone conversation snippets and cherry-picked evidence strung together.

“You can get there, you can get to `guilty,’ but you have to make a lot of speculations to get there,” Lucas said.

Hennepin County District Judge Robert Small told jurors that if they found Cook acted in self-defense and that his actions were reasonable, they must acquit him.

Baker suffered a broken eardrum and a temporary hearing loss in the fight. Cutter told jurors that Baker’s injury met the legal definition of “substantial bodily injury” that the law requires to convict someone of third-degree assault.

Cook brought Baker to the Twin Cities so she could see the Vikings play the Green Bay Packers on the weekend of Oct. 22. The two got into an argument the night she arrived because she thought he spent too much time with a stripper giving him a lap dance. He then got mad when he discovered she was texting an ex-boyfriend. The fight turned physical back at his Eden Prairie townhouse in the early morning hours of Oct. 22.

Baker told police, a paramedic and an emergency room physician that Cook placed his hand around her neck twice during the fight. But she recanted that statement less than three weeks later, and testified last week that she had lied to police because she was angry with Cook.

This week, Cook denied that he tried to choke Baker. He testified he slapped her in self-defense after she struck him in the back of the head with a shoe and threw a lamp at him.

Cutter told jurors that it’s not uncommon for domestic violence victims to recant. She said Baker’s original statements – made within minutes of the incident – were more reliable than her denials.

Cook missed the game against the Packers while he was in jail. The Vikings kept him out of practices and games for the rest of the season, even though he was free on supervised release. His future with the team is undecided.

“We will have something at some point,” general manager Rick Spielman told reporters Wednesday. “We’re waiting to let the legal process take its course and we’ll go from there.”



Related Stories
Cook found not guilty, could rejoin team
 -by VikingUpdate.com  Mar 15, 2012
Sunday slant: Cook has long road to recovery
 -by VikingUpdate.com  Mar 18, 2012
Cook’s trial opens with self-defense argument
 -by VikingUpdate.com  Mar 7, 2012

MAGAZINE COVERAGE
Subscribe today and get a full year of Viking Update Magazine with an annual Total Access Pass.
Sign Up Today!

Upgrade Now!
Free Email Newsletter
Don't miss any news or features from VikingUpdate.com. Subscribe to our newsletter to have our newest articles emailed to you on a daily or weekly basis.
Click here for a list of all Team Newsletters.

Add Players to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite players. Click name to add to My HotList.
CB Chris Cook (profile)
[View My HotList]
Add Topics to My HotList
Get free email alerts with news about your favorite topics. Click link to add to My HotList.
Football > Heritage HS > Alumni
Football > Minnesota
Football > Virginia > Alumni
[View My HotList]