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Officer describes fatal shooting of woman page 3
In murder trial, police interview of Culpeper officer doesn't explain why driver was in school's parking lot

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Date published: 1/24/2013


While the taped interview allowed Harmon-Wright to present his side of the story without giving Fisher an opportunity to cross-examine him, it also allowed the jury to hear the former officer tell Shively that he now worried about his job because he had been reprimanded a month earlier for using excessive force.

Harmon-Wright, 33, an Iraq War veteran who had been a Culpeper town policeman for five years, was fired from his job after being charged with murder in Cook's death.

The interview also showed minor inconsistencies about how far Harmon-Wright's arm was inside the car when Cook rolled up the hand-cranked window.

Stewardson testified that moments after the shooting, the former officer told her, "I got my fingers stuck in the window," and later indicated that he had been trapped up to his armpit.

Town police Capt. Chris Settle testified that Harmon-Wright's knuckles were bleeding when he took the officer back to the police station and said there was redness on his forearm.

Stewardson said that during her first interview with Harmon-Wright, he said he had initially shot only once, not twice, in order to free his arm. "He said he didn't remember the sound of the gun, but remembered pulling the trigger," she testified.

Fisher said that when the school administrator called police, Cook was "leaning back in her seat with her eyes closed."

He conceded that the woman had "no really good reason for being there."

During the afternoon session, State Police Special Agent John DeFilipi said his study of the bullets' trajectories determined most shots entered from the rear of the vehicle on the driver's side.

Medical examiner Constance DiAngelo, who performed Cook's autopsy, testified that Cook was shot between four and five times, with mortal wounds sustained to the spine and brain. The shots to her face and arm were not fatal.

DiAngelo added that the victim sustained abrasions to the right hand close to the time of death and that gunpowder was found on her hand. Cook also has abrasions to the left forehead.

At the end of the day's court proceedings, Judge Susan Whitlock said that the case, originally expected to last 10 days, was progressing faster than expected.

Staff writer Lindley Estes contributed to this report.

Donnie Johnston:
Email: djohnston@freelancestar.com

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