CHARLES TOWN — A jury brought a two-week trial to a close Friday by finding the man who shot his shot estranged girlfriend in a Ranson parking lot guilty of first-degree murder.
The jurors — eight women and four men— deliberated for just under three hours in Jefferson County Circuit Court before returning with a verdict of first-degree murder without mercy for Ray Dwayne Cook, 37, of Harpers Ferry.
Cook was on trial for shooting to death his longtime girlfriend Jenny Lou Perrine, who had recently broken off their relationship when Cook lured her to the parking lot outside Southern States on July 15, 2011, ostensibly to return her dog to her.
Perrine would turn 37 on Saturday.
As part of their verdict, jurors rejected defense attorney Kevin Mills’ contention that Cook, adversely affected by prescription medication, was not mentally capable of planning to kill Perrine.
Mills, who argued Cook was suffering from a “diminished capacity,” asked jurors to keep in mind that Cook was suffering from a mental illness for which he voluntarily sought treatment.
“The law makes sure that people who are sick don’t get punished the same as people who are not,” Mills said in closing remarks. “(Cook) tried to do what he could to prevent him from acting in a way that was against his own will. He wasn’t successful.”
Assistant Prosecutor Laurence Crofford said Cook, a former U.S. Marine, knew what he was doing when he shot Perrine 15 times, emptying one clip before returning to his car to reload another.
“Cook is so aware of what is going on he gets into a surrender position (as police arrive),” Crofford said. “He seeks to save his own life. he had already done his calculations. He preserved his own skin after he shot her. He knew ecactly what he was doing.”
After the jury returned with its verdict, it heard statements and testimony from Perrine’s mother and father, among others, who asked jurors to recommend that Cook not be granted mercy. A judgement of mercy attached to the verdict would have meant Cook would have been eligible for parole after having served for 15 years in prison.
Perrine’s mother, Cheryl Perrine, said she spoke to her daughter briefly the day of the shooting, but kept the conversation short, believing they’d talk again that night.
She said she wished she’d kept Jenny Lou on the phone longer.
“He showed Jenny no mercy,” she said. “ He deserves no mercy.”
Perrine’s father, George Perrine, implored Cook not to seek an appeal of the verdict.
“Take your punishment like a man,” he said.
Cook declined to take the stand Friday. After jurors returned with a verdict of no mercy, he walked briskly past those seated in attendance. He turned toward his family as he went, offering a small wave of his hand.
Robt F Snyder