Liberty police officer goes on trial for manslaughter

March 12, 2004|JIM LOGAN

LIBERTY - The trial of a police officer accused of manslaughter in the shooting death of a man last summer begins in earnest this morning.

Liberty Police Officer Leo Daniel "Danny" Cook Jr. shot Leon Brown on July 30, 2003, in the home of Brown's mother in Liberty. Cook, 40, had responded to a report of domestic violence involving Brown and his girlfriend, Freda Wilson.

Brown, who was unarmed, was shot once in the chest at close range.

Cook was indicted on charges of second-degree manslaughter by the Casey County grand jury Oct. 17. He faces five to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Opening arguments are set for this morning at 9 before Circuit Court Judge James G. Weddle.

Cook's shooting of Brown, 52, after responding to a domestic violence report is not in dispute. Cook's attorney, Steve Schroering of Louisville, has indicated that he will argue that Cook was acting in self-defense.


Schroering told the court that Cook was planning to testify on his own behalf.

Cook, who lives in Danville, was on paid administrative leave from the Liberty police department until his indictment. He is now on unpaid leave and free on $5,000 bond.

Today's trial follows a marathon jury selection process Thursday in which 85 potential jurors were questioned individually by Weddle, Schroering and Commonwealth's Attorney Brian Wright.

Schroering, citing pre-trial publicity of the case, sought the individual questioning. He had also moved for a change of venue, which Weddle denied.

Weddle told the 12 jurors and one alternate, four men and nine women, that the trial would likely last through Saturday.

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