KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Rico “Little Rico” Cook made his first appearance in juvenile court Monday morning, just one day after turning himself into authorities.
Cook faces charges for first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, especially aggravated robbery, and handgun possession charges.
Police were called to Lot C of Montgomery Village Apartments, 1401 Joe Lewis Road, around 1:25 p.m. Thursday for a report of shots fired. When they arrived, they found Sergio Rivera, 18; Jaloen Morris, 18, both of Decatur, Michigan; and Damien Lee, 16, of Knoxville, inside a vehicle suffering from gunshot wounds.
Rivera and Morris were both killed. One was dead when officers arrived and the other died during treatment. Police say the two had traveled to Knoxville from Michigan to conduct a deal for high-grade marijuana. Lee is recovering from non-life threatening injuries.
Cook’s hearing lasted only a few minutes, but prosecutors announced they would be filing a motion to request transfer from juvenile court to adult criminal court. WATE 6 On Your Side Legal Analyst Greg Isaacs says, ultimately, the court decides the severity of the offense.
“If they meet the threshold and it goes to criminal court, then he can get an adult sentence for committing an adult crime. First degree homicide is a 52 year sentence under Tennessee law. That’s how important that transfer process is,” said Isaacs.
If this case stays within juvenile court, the defendant must be released at age 19. That’s the maximum sentence. However, if the case is moved to adult criminal court the maximum sentence is 52 years, by Tennessee State Law.
“Basically, the state will have an expert that says this person can’t be rehabilitated. This was a premeditated act. On the other hand, the defense will typically find someone that says, nonsense. This was an adolescent, a child, and there are ways that we can rehabilitate him.” said Isaacs.
Cook’s parents were present at the hearing held in the Richard L. Bean Juvenile Service Center. They told the magistrate they would not be using a public defender but had already hired their own lawyer. Cook’s next court appearance is in July.