Hunt continues for second beating suspect | ParkRecord.com

Hunt continues for second beating suspect

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

Park City Police Department investigators have a second suspect in the beating of a man on Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival, but the person has not been captured, a police official said.

Rick Ryan, the Police Department captain who oversees the investigation division, declined to discuss details of the detective work that led to the second suspect. He refused to publicize where the person is from and whether he is a friend of John Cook, the Lindon man who was recently ordered to stand trial in the beating. Ryan said the police continue to collect evidence and are searching for the second suspect.

"The way we got it was through our investigation. That’s all I can tell you," Ryan said.

He said Cook has refused to cooperate with the investigation.

The police are considering charging the man with aggravated assault if he is captured, the same charge Cook faces.

Ryan acknowledged that the police had initially looked into whether another man from Utah County was the second suspect, but that trail went cold. He said the Utah County man who was initially believed to be the other person involved knows Cook, but he did not participate in the beating. The man was ruled out soon after the attack, Ryan said, describing that the man "was not a part of this at all."

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Cook and the other man beat a Los Angeles man outside the Egyptian Theatre on Jan. 18, the busy opening weekend of the festival. Main Street was bustling at the time, and there were numerous witnesses.

Before Judge Bruce Lubeck ordered a July trial for Cook, he listened to testimony that described the time just before the attack. According to the testimony from the victim, Ryan Bilbrey, the person who remains at large harassed him and his wife on the Main Street sidewalk. The person was lying across the sidewalk just beforehand. Bilbrey said something to the man about being in Park City, and the man got up and followed Bilbrey and the people he was with, Bilbrey said in court.

The man threw a piece of chewed gum and spit at Bilbrey’s wife before Bilbrey grappled with him, he said. Bilbrey either slipped or was knocked down and the attack started. The other man also threw the lid of a trash can at his wife, she said at the recent court hearing for Cook.

Bilbrey has required three surgeries to repair fractures and fix his jaw. Medical bills have reached approximately $90,000, he has said.

Cook’s attorney has said it might not have been Cook who attacked Bilbrey, although a witness said in court Cook was involved.

Ryan, the police captain, said the other man attacked with the "same brutality" as witnesses describe Cook using. He said the other person kicked Bilbrey after he was on he ground while Cook was also kicking him.

"He was as much a party to this crime as Cook," Ryan said, describing the person as having "been of interest to us for several weeks."

The judge allowed prosecutors to pursue a conviction on two sorts of aggravated-assault charges, one a second-degree felony and one a less serious third-degree felony. Upon conviction, the more serious charge carries a potential prison sentence of between 1 and 15 years.

The beating was a rare act of street violence in Park City.

Anybody with information about the case may call the Police Department at 615-5500 or the department anonymous tip line, 615-5847.