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Former Culpeper police officer set to go on trial on murder charges in shooting death of unarmed woman

 A memorial for Patricia Cook sprang up along the utility pole where her Jeep came to a rest after the shooting.
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Date published: 1/20/2013


The special prosecutor said, however, that these shots were not fatal. As the vehicle pulled into the street, Harmon-Wright is accused of stepping into the street and firing five more times at the rear of the Jeep.

One of those shots struck Cook in the back of the head and another severed her spine and entered her heart and lungs, Fisher told the court.

The Jeep inched its way up East Street and came to rest against a utility pole.

Fisher was named as special prosecutor two days later. On April 2, he asked that a special investigative grand jury be empanelled to interview witnesses, review evidence and determine if charges should be filed.

On May 28, that grand jury not only indicted Harmon-Wright, but also his mother, Bethany Sullivan, who had been police Chief Dan Boring's private secretary at the time her son was hired.

Sullivan stands accused of altering documents in some manner during Harmon-Wright's hiring process. Her case will not be heard until after her son's murder trial.

Harmon-Wright was arrested at his Gainesville home on May 29 and later released on $100,000 bond.

He was fired from his town police position on June 21 and now lives in Orange, where his mother resides, according to court documents.

On May 14, Gary D. Cook, Patricia Cook's 62-year-old husband, filed a $3.5 million wrongful death suit against Harmon-Wright.

Gary Cook, however, was found dead in his Friendship Heights apartment on Sept. 4. A state medical examiner ruled that he died of natural causes.

The suit, however, continues with Patricia Cook's brother as plaintiff.

Because of interest in the high-profile case, Judge Whitlock has set aside a special section in the small courtroom for reporters.

Also, to avoid distractions, the judge has ordered that no one will be allowed to enter after she is seated or exit before she calls a recess.

Earlier this month, Whitlock banned all cellphones and similar devices from her courtroom.

This will be Whitlock's first murder trial since assuming her judgeship in Virginia's 16th Judicial District in July.

Donnie Johnston:
Email: djohnston@freelancestar.com

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