Beating suspect faces serious charge
January 27, 2009
Prosecutors have charged a man suspected of beating a person on Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival with aggravated assault, deciding that the attack was brutal enough to warrant a more serious charge than was originally filed by investigating police officers.
If he is convicted, John Cook, 25, faces a prison sentence of between 1 and 15 years. The prosecutors left open the possibility of a less serious aggravated-assault count that carries between 0 and 5 years in prison.
Cook, who is from Lindon, was booked into the Summit County Jail just before 3 a.m. on Jan. 18. A bail bondsman posted $925 the next morning to release him. He is scheduled to appear in 3rd District Court on Feb. 9. He has not entered a plea, and court records do not list an attorney for Cook. Telephone directories do not list Cook.
"It’s pretty serious because of the damage that was done to this individual," the prosecutor, Paul Christensen, said.
He refused to discuss the details of the case beyond those contained in a court filing against Cook. The filing is based on interviews with 17 people, including the victim, his wife and witnesses. According to the filing, the victim and his wife were walking on Main Street close to the Egyptian Theatre when they passed Cook and another man.
The victim and wife, who are from Los Angeles and own a condominium in Park City, exchanged words with the two. The prosecutors said Cook and the other man attacked the victim, who is 37 years old, in front of "numerous witnesses." The court filing said Cook kicked him in the face as the other man held the victim down.
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The police said afterward officers found Cook in a nearby nightclub with the assistance of the wife. At the time, the police charged him with assault, but a Police Department official indicated a more serious charge was under consideration.
The police are searching for the other suspect, but the investigators have not identified him. Christensen said he is unsure what charges he would pursue against the second man.
The wife said in an interview the victim underwent surgery on Jan. 21. He suffered two shattered cheek bones, two shattered eye sockets, a broken nose and a bruised brain. She said he cannot eat solid foods for another two to three weeks.
According to the wife’s account of the confrontation, the man with Cook threw gum at her, spit at her and threw a trash can lid at her. She dodged the lid. She said the two assailants tried to lure her husband into a fight by harassing her.
The wife said the seriousness of the charge against Cook is warranted because the victim was at risk of being killed during the attack.