Moore County jurors to hear Cook retrial

Friday, September 26, 2008

The jury in the upcoming retrial of a woman accused of murder will be made up of Moore County residents and will be sequestered, according to the District Attorney's office.

Jury selection will take place in Lynchburg on Friday, Oct. 10 in the case of 23-year-old Ashley Cook, who is charged with first degree murder and conspiracy to commit first degree murder in the Feb. 14, 2007 death of Bill Ross, a Shelbyville car salesman.

According to Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles, the public defender's office made a motion on behalf of Cook for change of venue "based on all the publicity from the first trial and the judge granted it."

As a result, "we will go to another county within our judicial district to pick the jury, but the trial will still be here," Randles said.

However, instead of heading home at the end of the day, the jury will be sequestered until the end of the trial, Randles said.

"Once they come over here, they'll be staying in a hotel," the assistant D.A. said.

The trial is set to begin on Monday, Oct. 14.

Bill Ross was shot three times while he slept in his bed at his Wartrace Pike home. His wife, 38-year-old Kimberly Ann Ross, was sentenced to life in prison last November after pleading guilty to first degree murder for her role in planning the slaying.

The prosecution claims Cook pulled the trigger while Justin Young, 20, allegedly loaded the gun and let Cook enter the home to shoot Ross in order to make the death look like part of a home invasion.

In July, the case ended in mistrial after the jury declared itself deadlocked after four days of deliberation.

District Attorney General Chuck Crawford said at the time that his office's belief in Cook's guilt "remains unshaken."

Defense attorney Jack Dearing said before the first trial that while Cook may be guilty of pulling the trigger, she should not be found guilty of conspiracy or premeditated murder.