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Jury to weigh officer's account page 2
Jury will choose view of either witness, or accused police officer

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Date published: 1/28/2013


A key ruling in the case prevented either side from delving into Cook's past, including reports that she had made visits to the main building of the Epiphany School on other occasions. Five middle-school students who were originally subpoenaed were never called to testify.

Fisher also elected to refrain from bringing up Harmon-Wright's past, which included allegations of alcohol abuse while in the military.

The fact that Harmon-Wright had been disciplined a month before the shooting for using excessive force did come out, however.

In a video interview conducted by Virginia State Police Investigator Richard Shivley and played for the jury, the officer referred to the reprimand and worried that the Cook shooting would make another negative impact on his law enforcement career.

The trial produced little information about the case that has not already been made public by the media. It did, however, dispel a persistent rumor that Cook had forced her way into the school annex that fateful morning.

And, according to testimony, Harmon-Wright had never met Cook before the incident in the school parking lot.

Still a mystery is why Cook had pulled into the school lot shortly before 9:30 that chilly February morning and placed a sun shield, the type typically used to keep vehicle interiors cool on hot summer days, all the way across her windshield.

Harmon-Wright testified that Cook told him that she was waiting for someone and former town police detective Sue Stewardson testified that there were packed boxes in Cook's Jeep Wrangler that seemed to indicate that "she may have been moving."

Who was Cook waiting for? That question was not answered in the trial; Judge Susan Whitlock ruled that only evidence directly associated with the shooting incident would be admissible.

Why Cook decided to pull into the Epiphany parking lot and sit with her head back, her eyes closed and her car running may forever remain a mystery. And no one will ever know why she decided to drive away after the officer asked for her driver's license.

What is at issue and what jurors will have to decide is whether Harmon-Wright was acting lawfully when he killed Cook. More specifically, did he have the right to shoot the woman, who had no prior criminal record and who, according to the testimony of the defendant, had no gun or knife, in the back?

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