Famous Last Words
August 8, 2012
“I’d like to say sorry to the victim’s family. I know that’s not enough. Where am I? To my lawyers, thank you. Red Robin, yum. I’m done. I love you.”
Cook was executed by lethal injection for raping, torturing, and strangling 26-year-old Carlos Cruz-Ramos and 16-year-old Kevin Swaney with the help of John Matzke. All four were co-workers and roommates.
On July 19, 1987, Cruz-Ramos was tortured and raped over six to seven hours. He was beaten with a stick and a metal pipe, his chest was slashed with a knife, and his foreskin was stapled to a chair. He was finally killed when Cook and Matzke pressed a metal pipe against his throat, crushing it. When Swaney arrived at the home later the same night, he was shown Cruz-Ramos’ body, was raped, and strangled with a bedsheet.
Matzke was persuaded by a friend to confess the murders to police. He pleaded guilty and testified against Cook, both of which led to a reduced sentence. He was given a 20-year term and has been released.
Cook’s trial brought controversy when his troubled past came to light, including alleged sexual abuse from his parents, grandparents, step-father, step-brothers, and foster parents. Cook claimed his father had burned his penis with a cigarette when he was an infant, and his mother and grandparents raped and molested him as a child. Additionally, Cook claimed he and other boys were subjected to a “peek-a-boo room,” a room with a one-way mirror where the boys in his group-home were handcuffed naked to a bed and raped as adults watched through the one-way mirror.
Because of this prolonged physical and psychological abuse, his attorneys argued he was not mentally fit enough to be considered responsible for the murders, though this defense proved unsuccessful.