Judge locks up Main Street attacker
November 30, 2009
Judge Bruce Lubeck on Monday, calling an attack on Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival in January a "monstrous event," ordered John Cook to serve 300 days in jail for the assault, telling the courtroom he would have locked Cook up for up to 15 years in prison if he was able.
The goateed Cook appeared in the courtroom at Third District Court with his hands and legs shackled and wearing an orange and white prison outfit with the words "Summit County Jail" on his back and the word "inmate" on his pant leg.
Lubeck told Cook he believed the assertions made by the victim’s side during his trial that Cook was growling and flexing his muscles during the confrontation on the upper stretch of the street on Jan. 18.
"There was just no need for this, Mr. Cook," Lubeck said, indicating that he does not see Cook as a "monster."
Cook has been imprisoned since a jury in mid-October convicted him of a misdemeanor count of assault. Lubeck did not allow the approximately six weeks Cook has been in jail to count toward his term.
The judge ordered Cook to pay $16,636 in restitution, mostly to his victim, Ryan Bilbrey. He placed Cook on probation for 24 months.
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Cook, turning toward Bilbrey, apologized for the attack.
"I’m sorry for what I put you through, the damage," Cook said to his victim.
Cook attacked Bilbrey in a rare act of brutality on Main Street, kicking him in the face just after fisticuffs between Bilbrey and a man Cook was with that night. Bilbrey suffered extensive damage to his face and has required repeated surgeries.
Prosecutors had charged Cook with a more serious felony count, but the jury convicted him of the misdemeanor. Had the jury convicted him of the felony, Cook would have faced a sentence of between 1 and 15 years in state prison.
Bilbrey’s wife, Rebecca, delivered an emotional statement before the sentencing, saying the attack and the court proceedings afterward were an "absolute nightmare."
"He needs to understand, if he can, that his time in jail won’t change anything for us. We still have to live with this," she said.
In an interview afterward, Ryan Bilbrey said the judge’s admonishment of Cook "makes us feel our story was heard and believed."
"We’re satisfied with the sentence. I think a year in jail is meaningful," Bilbrey said. "It makes us feel we’re getting justice."