AZ: Execution stay of Daniel W. Cook angers victim’s family,
Wed Apr 6, 2011 14:22
Execution stay of Lake Havasu City man angers victim’s family, friends By JACKIE LEATHERMAN Today's News-Herald Published Tuesday, April 5, 2011 10:34 PM MST
It took 24 years for Jim Swaney to believe he would find closure with his younger brother’s murder.
But that was taken away Monday night when the U.S. Supreme Court canceled the scheduled Tuesday execution of his brother’s murderer.
“There’s not a question of him being guilty,” said Swaney, who lives in Lake Havasu City. “He’s guilty. Period. … So why they are prolonging it, I’m not really sure.”
The U.S. Supreme Court put Daniel W. Cook’s execution on hold until it hears arguments that he received ineffective counsel during trials after he was convicted and sentenced. The ruling came down fewer than 24 hours before the 49-year-old was scheduled to die by lethal injection.
Cook raped and tortured 16-year-old Kevin Swaney for hours in July 1987 in Lake Havasu City. He and John Matze also raped, tortured and killed 26-year-old Carlos Cruz-Ramos hours before Kevin Swaney’s death. Matzke admitted to killing Ramos, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, and served a 20-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony against Cook. He was released in 2007.
Cook, Matzke, Ramos and Kevin Swaney all had worked at Bob’s Big Boy’s Restaurant.
Cook’s defense attorney, Robin Konrad, said his previous attorneys didn’t inform judges that Cook endured extreme physical and sexual abuse throughout his childhood.
Konrad is seeking life in prison for Cook.
Jim Swaney said if there was a question of Cook’s guilt or innocence, he would be in favor of canceling the execution.
“Why,” Jim Swaney said. “My question is why. Because he was abused as a kid, so that makes it OK? But you were found guilty. A lot of people don’t have good childhoods, but that doesn’t (make it) right. I think we are all just kind of wanting closure, not that it would bring Kevin back.”
Clyde Andress, a retired judge and former police officer who worked on the 1987 case, said carrying out the imposed death sentence has “taken way too long.”
“Just because (Cook had a bad childhood) doesn’t mean he can go out and kill somebody,” Andress said. “That is ridiculous. Nobody is thinking about the other victims. I’m sorry that something happened to (Cook) a long time ago, but that doesn’t give him the right to kill anybody else. What about the poor victims of the crime?”
Local business owner and former classmate of Kevin Swaney, Andy Nelson, said he was “pissed off” when he heard the news Tuesday morning.
“I’m pissed off about (this), I think it’s BS, I think this guy is an animal,’ Nelson said. “And I think he needs to be put down. I don’t think our tax dollars should be wasted on this. This guy is overwhelmingly guilty. Even he’s not saying he didn’t do it. I’m sorry the guy was abused, but the crime that he committed was so horrifying that he doesn’t even need to be (on this) planet.”
Jim Swaney said he wasn’t planning on attending Cook’s scheduled April 5 execution.
“But the next one (if it’s scheduled), I am definitely going to,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. You can contact the reporter email@example.com
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