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Archive for Friday, March 9, 2007

Man found guilty of rape, murder of student

March 9, 2007

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— A man accused of raping and killing a University of Delaware student, whose body was discovered in her burning apartment, was found guilty Thursday and could face the death penalty.

James E. Cooke, 36, broke into Lindsey M. Bonistall's apartment in May 2005, then raped and strangled the 20-year-old college sophomore before placing her body in a bathtub and setting the fire, prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys had urged the jury in Wilmington to find James E. Cooke Jr. mentally ill. Cooke, however, said he isn't mentally ill. He also denied killing Bonistall and said they had consensual sex.

The jury deliberated just over two days before finding him guilty of murder, felony murder, rape, robbery, three counts of burglary, arson, reckless endangering, and two counts of misdemeanor theft.

The sentencing phase of his trial is scheduled to begin on Monday.

During trial, he claimed his attorneys were working with the judge to railroad him and denied he was mentally ill, and was finally banished from the courtroom by Judge Jerome Herlihy after frequent outbursts.

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