Defense attorney for Harmon-Wright
Prosecutor Jim Fisher
CULPEPER, Va. (WUSA) -- Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of former Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright. He arrived at Culpeper County Circuit Court on Tuesday morning to stand trial in the death of Patricia "Patty" Ann Cook.
Harmon-Wright is accused of shooting Cook on Feb. 9, 2012 after responding to the report of a suspicious vehicle in a church parking lot. Cook was unarmed at the time of her death, and according to evidence she was shot seven times. Prosecutor Jim Fisher says that the first two shots at close range were non-fatal. He says the next five shots that Harmon-Wright fired at Cook's Jeep Wrangler as she tried to drive away were fatal.
The incident shocked many people in the community and others came forward with their own allegations about the police officer. One family claimed Harmon-Wright and another officer entered their home with guns drawn after following their son in relation to a suspicious person report in 2011. They allegedly searched the home without a warrant. Culpeper Captain Ricky Pinksaw wrote in a letter of reprimand: "It is apparent that excessive force was utilized" and that the son "only in the in the best light was truant from school."
Captain Pinksaw told Harmon-Wright that "our conversation about the details of the case will serve as a Counseling Session and will serve as the final disposition of this investigation."
A month after the letter, Patricia Ann Cook was killed.
He was fired from the police department in June 2012 after his indictment.
Harmon-Wright is charged with murder, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle, malicious shooting into an occupied vehicle resulting in a death, and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
Harmon-Wright's mother, Bethany Ann Parr of Orange, is scheduled to go to trial in April for forgery. She is accused of trying to purge her son's negative personnel record when she worked at the Culpeper Police Department. The alleged forgery was found during a special grand jury investigation of the fatal shooting.
Patricia Cook's husband, Gary Cook, died in September 2012 of natural causes. Gary Cook had filed a $5.35 million wrongful death lawsuit in May against Harmon-Wright.