Murder charges filed in Batavia hit-and-run

Man struck and killed walking dog
August 24, 2009 (BATAVIA, Ill.) Edward Cook was on parole at the time of last month's crash. Prosecutors upgraded his charges in an effort to send a strong message to others who might contemplate getting behind the wheel drunk.

Late last month, David Long set out, as he customarily did, in the morning to take his dog, Shadow, for a walk. They were on the sidewalk on Woodland Hills Drive in Batavia when a car jumped the curb, then struck and killed Long and his dog.

The driver of the car, 24-year-old Edward Cook, was, police say, legally drunk and had both cocaine and marijuana in his system.

Cook did prison time last year on an aggravated DUI conviction in Will County.

"I believe that this case has unique circumstances," said John Barsanti, Kane County state's attorney.

The Kane County state's attorney announced Monday that a grand jury has indicted Cook on first-degree murder charges. That goes beyond aggravated DUI and reckless homicide.

"It's not the policy of this office. I'm not making any kind of policy statement other than this particular case presents unique facts," said Barsanti.

The circumstances are, investigators say, that Cook, who had no license and no driving privileges, stole an acquaintance's car that became the hit-and-run vehicle.

The theft of that car was, according to the state's attorney, a forcible felony. As a predicate act, he says, it legally permits the charge of first-degree murder.

Seldom if ever are murder charges filed in drunken driving deaths because it is hard to sustain the burden of proof. Barsanti concedes winning a murder conviction will be an uphill fight, and this is not meant to be a precedent-setting case, but he wants to send a message.

"I also think this will have a deterrent effect. I think this type of charge will have a deterrent effect on others," said Barsanti.

Cook remains in custody. If he were convicted of aggravated DUI, he would be looking at a six- to 14-year sentence. Murder gets a minimum of 20 years.

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