Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Friday, December 7, 2001

MEDIA ADVISORY:

Vincent Edward Cooks Scheduled to be Executed

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Vincent Edward Cooks, who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2001.

Vincent Edward Cooks was convicted on Dec. 7, 1988 of murdering peace officer Gary Don McCarthy in the course of a robbery which occurred in Dallas, Texas, on Feb. 26, 1988. A summary of the evidence presented at trial follows.

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On Feb. 26 1988,Vincent Edward Cooks and two of his friends, Tony Ray Harvey and Tracy Stallworth, rented a blue Plymouth and parked it down the street from the Brancatos Grocery Store in Dallas, Texas. They also parked a stolen Oldsmobile in a parking lot across from the store. All three men then sat in the Plymouth and waited.

At 4:30 p.m. that same day, Mark DeCardenas, owner of the Brancatos Grocery Store, went to the bank to obtain $30,000 for the store's check cashing service. Thirty-three-year-old Gary Don McCarthy, an off-duty police officer who worked part time as the store security guard, accompanied DeCardenas on the bank run. As Cooks, Harvey and Stallworth observed DeCardenas and Officer McCarthy returning to the store, Cooks and Harvey left the Plymouth and got inside the Oldsmobile still parked across from the store. Cooks then approached DeCardenas and Officer McCarthy, and attempted to grab the money bag from DeCardenas. As Officer McCarthy pushed DeCardenas away from Cooks, DeCardenas dropped the money bag. Cooks then shot Officer McCarthy. The officer returned fire and shattered the Oldsmobile's rear window as Cooks fled the scene.

The damaged window did not go unnoticed by two police officers patrolling the area. Suspecting that the car was stolen, the officers pursued, but found the vehicle abandoned when they reached it. The officers found a revolver on the floorboard of the vehicle. Police arrested Stallworth, Harvey and Cooks shortly after tracing the license plate number to the rented blue Plymouth.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

  • March 10, 1988 - Cooks was indicted for the capital murder of Gary D. McCarthy in the course of a robbery.
  • December 7, 1988 - Cooks was convicted of capital murder.
  • September 16, 1992 - The Court of Criminal Appeals confirmed the conviction.
  • June 28, 1993 - The Supreme Court denied a petition for writ of certiori.
  • April 1995 - Cooks filed for state habeas relief.
  • April 3, 1996 - The Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the recommendation by the state habeas court that relief be denied. Execution set for May 22, 1996.
  • May 16, 1996 - Cooks requested that the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, stay his execution. The district court granted the request.
  • April 23, 1997 - Cooks filed his petition for federal habeas corpus relief in the district court.
  • December 2000 - The district court entered a final judgment denying relief.
  • July 12, 2001 - The Fifth Circuit denied Cooks' request for permission to appeal the decision.
  • August 7, 2001- The Trial Court reset Cooks' execution for Dec. 12, 2001.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

In 1984, Cooks fired two shots at a police officer when the officer attempted to quell a nightclub fight. Cooks also committed two additional aggravated robberies, both of which were accomplished in much the same manner as the primary offense.

Cooks committed the first of those robberies on Nov. 11, 1987, when he robbed a small Dallas grocery store in the middle of the afternoon as the store's owner returned with $37,000 from a bank run. Cooks pointed his gun at the store owner and demanded the money. Police identified his fingerprint, as well as Stallworth's palm print, on a "hot- wired" Oldsmobile Cutlass that was abandoned near the store. Cooks committed the second aggravated robbery in January 1988, when, again wielding his gun, he stole $30,000 from a Dallas liquor store early in the afternoon as store employees returned from a bank run.

Cooks was also disruptive in jail as he awaited trial for capital murder. On one occasion, Cooks scattered food all over the front wall of his cell, then loudly demanded more food and threatened that "if anybody messes with me, I'll kill somebody." Smiling, Cooks added, "[T]his is not the first time I've been accused of it." On several occasions as officers escorted him from his cell, through the officers' dining room, to the gymnasium, Cooks tried to grab food in the officers' dining room. When told not to grab the food, Cooks once responded, "Don't no [expletive] police tell me what to do. Any police that mess with me, I'll beat their ass." Cooks also had a quick temper and intimidated jail staff members.

MISCELLANEOUS

For additional information and statistics, please log on to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, www.tdcj.state.tx.us.

Contact: Mark Heckmann, Tom Kelley, Jane Dees Shepperd or Mike Viesca at (512) 463-2050.
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