On March 1, Dr. Raymond Cook was sentenced to at least three years in prison after being convicted for his role in a September 11, 2009 crash in Raleigh in which an aspiring ballerina suffered fatal personal injuries.


Cook was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, felony death by motor vehicle, and driving while impaired by a Wake County jury in connection to the crash in which Elena Bright Shapiro was killed.


The verdict came after nearly 10 hours of deliberation over a period of three days. The court was silent as the clerk read the findings of the seven women and five men.


Under North Carolina law, a person cannot be sentenced for both involuntary manslaughter and felony death by motor vehicle.


Judge Osmond Smith said that he planned to sentence Cook under the conviction for felony death by motor vehicle, a verdict giving him leeway to consider such aggravating factors as whether Cook drove in a manner to endanger more than one life, as was contended by prosecutors.


During a brief 10-minute session shortly after rendering their verdicts, the jury found Cook guilty of the aggravating factor.


Cook is expected to serve at least three years in prison, but could be there for up to 4 ½ years based on the judge’s ruling.

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