Daniel Cook was executed in Florence yesterday for the 1987 strangulation murders of 16-year-old Kevin Swaney and 26-year-old Carlos Cruz-Ramos in Lake Havasu City.
Cook represented himself when he originally was sentenced to the death penalty for his heinous crimes. At some point after his conviction, a defense team filed an appeal for Cook. After an extensive psychological and emotional evaluation, defense lawyers discovered that Cook had an extremely traumatic childhood.
The report found that Cook was abused from infancy all the way through most of his teenage years. His parents, grandparents, step-father, step-brothers, and foster parents physically and sexually abused him on countless occasions throughout his childhood, according to the evaluation.
Among the many abuses Cook endured growing up included his father's burning his penis with a cigarette when he was an infant, rape and molestation throughout childhood by his mother and grandparents, and a group-home leader's forcing him to undergo circumcision when he was 15.
Cook's victims were found with injuries consistent with the abuses Cook suffered as a child. He burned the genitals of one of his victims with a cigarette, sodomized him, then crushed his throat with a metal pipe, according to the ADC report.
The evaluation concluded that the mental and emotional abuses Cook suffered severely affected his cognitive functioning and reasoning abilities and that a confluence of bad breaks, mental disturbance, and drug addiction led to his uncharacteristic but mortifying actions. The defense team acknowledged that he must pay for his crimes but that he shouldn't have been executed.
The prosecuting attorney said he wouldn't have sought the death penalty had he known of Cook's troubled past.
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