Jury recommends death for convicted Delaware murderer

For the second time, a Wilmington jury has recommend the death penalty for James Cooke, the man convicted of killing University of Delaware student Lindsey Bonistall.

The same jury that convicted Cooke voted 11-1 in favor of death after finding him guilty of murder, rape, burglary and arson.  

He was convicted on April 13 of killing Bonistall and setting her apartment on fire to cover the crime in 2005.  It’s the second time he’s been convicted and sentenced to death for the murder.  His first conviction and sentence was thrown out by the Delaware Supreme Court in 2009 because his public defenders argued that he was guilty but mentally ill, despite the fact that Cooke repeatedly claimed his innocence.

The final determination of Cooke’s fate will be made by Judge Charles Toliver.  Delaware law requires judges to give “great weight” to the jury’s recommendation.  At the start of the penalty phase of the trial, Cooke told the court, “This is not going to be a fair hearing… just give me death.”  Cooke was unruly during his trial, forcing Toliver to throw him out of the court room on several occasions.  

There’s been no date set for Toliver to issue his ruling on life or death.

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