Prosecutor Pushes for Death Penalty in Cooke Case - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Prosecutor Pushes for Death Penalty in Cooke Case

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James Cooke Jr. James Cooke Jr.

WILMINGTON, Del. (WBOC/AP)- Prosecutors say death is the "only appropriate penalty" for a former death row inmate convicted of raping and killing a University of Delaware student in 2005.

The penalty phase of the retrial of 41-year-old James Cooke Jr. started Wednesday. Cooke was found guilty last week of 10 charges, including first-degree murder, rape and arson in the death of 20-year-old Lindsey Bonistall.

Prosecutors say that in 2005, Cooke broke into Bonistall's off-campus apartment in Newark, Del., and raped and strangled the woman. Court records show that Cooke took her body and placed it in the bathtub before he set the apartment on fire. He was sentenced to death for the murder in 2007, but the state Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 2009. The public defenders argued on Cooke's behalf, without his consent, that he was guilty of the crime but is mentally ill.

Prosecutors on Wednesday presented Cooke as a life-long criminal, despite his claims of innocence regarding this case. His criminal history includes 18 convictions as a juvenile and eight more as an adult.

Jurors will determine whether or not Cooke will be executed.

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