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Man convicted in killings could be released from prison

Nathaniel Cook admitted to his role in the 1980 shooting death of Tom Gordon and the rape and attempted murder of Gordon's girlfriend


By Jennifer Feehan
The Blade, Toledo, Ohio

TOLEDO, Ohio — If Nathaniel Cook is released from prison after 20 years, Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates said Monday she intends to ask the court to place as many controls on the confessed murderer as possible.

“Our agreement was we won't oppose [judicial release], but we can certainly suggest controls and behavioral requirements so that we are comfortable that if he is out, someone is looking after him and we know where he is,” she said.

The prosecutor's office filed a motion in Lucas County Common Pleas Court seeking to have Cook, now 59, evaluated by the Court Diagnostic and Treatment Center for possible classification as a sexual predator.

Such a designation would require Cook to register his address with the county sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life.

“It keeps an eye on him through the court system and through the sheriff's department where he has to register,” Mrs. Bates said. “For the rest of his life, we would know where he is.”

Cook is expected to file a motion for judicial release under the terms of a 2000 plea agreement in which he admitted to his role in the 1980 shooting death of Tom Gordon and the rape and attempted murder of Mr. Gordon's girlfriend.

As part of the plea deal, Cook and his older brother, Anthony Cook, now 68, made full confessions to investigators about homicides they'd committed in Lucas County.

Anthony admitted to a total of nine killings, including the 1981 murder of Ottawa Hills Realtor Peter Sawicki for which he already was serving a life sentence. Nathaniel Cook confessed he was with Anthony on three of them.

In exchange for their confessions, Anthony Cook pleaded guilty to the aggravated murder of Mr. Gordon and was sentenced to a second life prison term. Nathaniel pleaded guilty to the attempted murder of Mr. Gordon's girlfriend and two counts of kidnapping with the promise he would be released by the court on or about Feb. 13, 2018, after he had spent 20 years behind bars.

While prosecutors agreed not to pursue charges against the brothers for the other killings, the deal enabled investigators to clear unsolved cases from 1973, 1980, and 1981 — and give victims’ families the answers they’d never had before.

Mrs. Bates said that, in addition to seeking sex-offender registration, her office could ask the court for any number of conditions on Nathaniel Cook's release — from electronic monitoring to drug testing and mental-health counseling.

“The more controls you can put on somebody's behavior — where they live and what they do — the more comfortable people might feel that he's not just going off into oblivion,” she said.

Some family members of the Cooks' victims told The Blade in recent interviews that while they consented to the plea agreement, they are upset that either of the brothers could ever be released from prison.

Defense attorney Pete Rost, who represents Nathaniel Cook, had not seen the prosecutor's motion and could not comment Monday.

©2018 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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