This afternoon, James Franklin Cook, 54, of Boyne City pleaded guilty to eight felonies – assault with intent to murder, five counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, assaulting an officer causing serious impairment and possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 2, 2016 at 9:00 a.m. in the 33rd Circuit Court.
Combining this plea with his prior guilty pleas in this case, Cook pleaded guilty to 13 felonies, including the most serious charge – assaulting with intent to murder Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office Corp. Fred Hasty, with carries a potential sentence of life in prison.
My preliminary scoring of the guidelines discloses that Mr. Cook may have a minimum sentence of up to 40 years in prison.
Mr. Cook pleaded guilty to using a dangerous weapon to assault all of the other officers at the scene, Boyne City Assistant Chief of Police Kevin Spate, Michigan State Police Trooper Zachary Helton and from the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office Corporal William Church, Sergeant George Robert Lasater and Undersheriff Chuck Vondra.
The plea will result in the same sentencing guidelines as if he were convicted of all charges at trial. It will also give up his automatic right of appeal which he would have had following a conviction at trial.
I cannot stress enough the bravery and professionalism of the officers who were at the scene, those named above and Deputy Travis Williams who placed Cook under arrest. They were faced with a situation that thankfully we don’t see often in northern Michigan – a man with three loaded weapons, waiting for them behind a gate.
Mr. Cook fired first and the officers showed incredible restraint, firing only when fired upon and only in short bursts to stop Mr. Cook. Unfortunately, Corporal Hasty was injured but thankfully he is on the path to recovery and back to work.
I want to also thank all of the officers involved in the investigation – the officer in charge, First Lieutenant Mark Harris of the Michigan State Police, MSP Detective/Sergeant David Hart, Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office Detective/Sergeant Mike Wheat, Deputy Justin Kieliszewski, Boyne City Police Chief Jeff Gaither, Officers Don Sproul, Craig Remsberg, Dan Mercer, Emmet County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Cody Wheat and City of Petoskey Lieutenant David Schultz and Officer Karl Fritz.
Also without naming them, I want to thank the citizens who reported what they observed which led to Mr. Cook’s arrest and prosecution and who were prepared to testify at trial.