University of Wisconsin student Alec Cook’s defense attorneys no longer believe the state has sufficient reason to set bail for their client at $200,000.
According to a motion filed Wednesday, Cook’s defense team, Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, asked the court to change the current bail agreement to a signature bond. They also asked the court to set non-monetary conditions as deemed appropriate.
Since Oct. 14, Cook’s attorneys said he has cooperated fully with the Madison Police Department during their investigation and has appeared at all questionings and hearings when requested.
After the original complainant came forward, Cook voluntarily surrendered himself when he learned, through his counsel, that one of the MPD detectives wanted to take him into custody the evening of Oct. 17.
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Shortly after being released on a signature bond Wednesday Oct. 19, a second and third victim came forward. Cook was with his parents in Edina, Minnesota during this time period, his lawyers said in the motion.
When the second victim came forward, MPD detectives asked Cook to turn himself in by noon Friday Oct. 21. Instead of waiting until Friday, Cook returned to Madison and surrendered himself to MPD Thursday evening.
Cook remained in custody at the Dane County Jail while his defense team and the state deliberated on an appropriate bond amount.
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At Cook’s first bond hearing Oct. 27, the defense said they agreed to the current bond amount — $200,000 — for the simple reason that they “did not want another round of wasted trips to Edina and back.” In agreeing to the amount, the defense said their hope was to “let the dust settle” so the state would also have time to file any additional charges.
At a previous hearing, the state informed the defense they were looking at possibly filing stalking charges after finding various notebooks that allegedly contained “stalking and grooming techniques” for “dozens of potential victims.”
Since bringing up that claim, Van Wagner said the state has found no sufficient evidence to support that his client groomed or stalked women.
At the moment, Cook faces a 15-count criminal complaint:
- Seven counts of second degree sexual assault
- Three counts of third degree sexual assault
- One count of fourth degree sexual assault
- Two counts of strangulation and suffocation
- Two counts of false imprisonment
Due to the gravity of the charges, the defense said the state set bail at a high amount. The seriousness of the charges, however, does not put Cook at a flight risk, the defense argued.
Pursuant to Wisconsin State Legislature Statute §996.09, a defendant is able to be released pretrial without posting cash bail. Only if the court finds a reasonable basis to believe “bail is necessary to assure appearance in court,” is bail then imposed on a defendant.
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Since Cook has cooperated fully with investigators and has no prior criminal record, his defense team argued he is not a flight risk.
The state has yet to respond to the motion.
Cook is in custody at Dane County Jail awaiting possible release. He is currently scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Dec. 27, but the date may be possibly pushed back because investigators may not be able to attend the hearing.
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