From Heartbreaking Child Abuse To Pointless Execution

daniel cook

Even his prosecutor now opposes his execution, Arizona is planning to execute Daniel Cook on August 8.

Working to abolish the death penalty can sometimes be an emotionally challenging enterprise. We are immersed in a world where people suffer unimaginable losses, and we’re constantly reading about heinous crimes inflicted with brutal violence. Some of those crimes, of course, are murders. But often we are reading about another type of crime: violent child abuse, which is a defining experience for many who end up on death row.

Daniel Cook in Arizona is a case in point. Abused from infancy, he took the all too familiar path from horrific family violence to mental illness to drug abuse to violent crime to death row:

  • As an infant he was subjected to cigarette burns and beatings with a belt.
  • At age three his grandparents subjected him and his sister to sexual and physical abuse; he was forced to eat his own vomit.
  • At age nine he and his sister were subjected to more beatings, and sexual abuse by step-siblings.
  • At 14 he was sexually abused in a boys’ home.
  • At 18 he was discharged from in the US Army Reserve because he attempted suicide.
  • Over the course of his childhood, he had experienced several of his mother’s suicide attempts.
  • Over the years, he was diagnosed with a variety of disorders from schizophrenia to acute psychosis, alcohol addiction, passive aggressive personality, depression, and dependent personality disorder.
  • At the time of his crime, he was using crystal meth, and had smoked marijuana, consumed alcohol, and taken valium.

Unless Arizona authorities intervene (the prosecutor in his case now opposes his execution), Daniel Cook will be put to death by lethal injection on August 8.  But, really, what chance did he have?  And what purpose is served by putting him to death now, in one final act of violence?

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30 thoughts on “From Heartbreaking Child Abuse To Pointless Execution

  1. My brother – Robert Towery – was executed in AZ on March 8, 2012. His background story is almost identifcal to Mr. Cook's. The prosecutor in AZ spoke during the clemency hearing saying there was no "evidence of child abuse" and asked for death. I hadn't intended to speak, but after those lies, I felt compelled. I spoke of our abuse and one of the people at the clemency table asked "I hear this all the time..Why should he be treated any differently?"…My response was that we needed to treat all of the people who suffered child abuse and drug abuse differently – because we had already failed them as a society to get them help when they needed it. I appreciate the work you and your associates do to get this barbarism stopped. I watched my brother be killed by the State of AZ. He didn't deserve to die – and no one on the planet has the right to commit murder in the name of justice. It's just not the answer. I believe the saying goes "If everyone followed an eye-for-an-eye, the entire world would be blind"

    • fact is your brother made the decision to end the live of a kind and generous man, he also tourtuered him and brutalized him before killing him. he was a junkie, a thef, and a murderer and i for one was not sad to see him be executed. my sympathies goes to the victim and his family not a cold blooded killer and sociopath.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Christine. The phrase “execution is not the solution” is particularly apt here. Our death penalty solves no problems; it just creates more suffering and loss. Preventing crimes like those of Mr. Cook by addressing child abuse early on is certainly more of a “solution”.

  3. This is another glaring example of why the death penalty is wrong. It must be ended soon.

    Terry McCaffrey

  4. WAAAA I HAD A TOUGH LIFE NOW IM GONA TAKE IT OUT ON AN INNOCENT PERSON. Insects like this deserve to be executed for their crimes. All you bleeding hearts out there have this fucked up sympathy for killers that you would never have if a person you cared about was the victim. Unlike you I have something called empathy, so I can put myself in the shoes of the victims family. You all have empathy for the wrong person and it's disgusting. Once you kill an innocent person, you are less than a dog to me, and should be put down.

    • Anon, if you think that we anti death penalty activists don't have empathy for the victims and their families you are sorely mistaken. Please don't make such silly assumptions.

      • Oh! please "Empathy for the victims" Strings of weasel words meant to pass for empathy. Crocodile tears. There is no crime so heinous you that would not excuse or explain it away. Frauds!

    • I favor leaving that kind of judgment to our Lord: "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."
      It is His job, not yours, to determine who among us, are "dogs" that deserve to be put down." There are numerous victim survivors who favor more mercy than you do. Your eagerness to kill another human being is chilling.

      • Your god is BS jus like all he others and mercy is for the weak and stupid it's perfectly natural to seek revenge and it's the only logical decision when face with such a abomination like this thing was

  5. Anon– are you willing to push the button —
    Pull the trigger as it were? Execution is done in the name of the state. That's you. That's us. My heart does go out to these victims whose lives were destroyed by soul killers.

      • I saw you commented via facebook, amongst your likes (on facebook) is amnesty international who are fundementally against the death penalty, but you seem very keen on it. even the writer of this article is an amnesty anti death penalty campaigner, i find this very curious

        • i did support them for their work an gay rights but i never will again due to their support of criminals like this. human right should be given to real humans not murdering animals.

  6. I am a criminal lawyer in New York. NYS Penal Code does not have capital punishment, and I am among these who applaud the legislators. Talking about this case, I think the person's background cries for leniency. I think we should show some humanism. At the same time, I can understand the victim's family. Abolissh death penalty.

    • Good post Arkady, thanks for sharing. You're absolutely right- Daniel Cook's background does cry for leniency. Those who are abused often become abusers. So many people seemingly fail to understand this. Re the victims' families- I too have all the empathy in the world for them. What happened was a tragic event. However, putting Cook to death will not bring the poor victims back. It will also ruin another family. Too often people forget that death row inmates have families too. Abolish the death penalty.

  7. BS this man raped and murdered two innocent people he should be beheaded! i was abused but i didn't kill anyone, and i'm offended this animal would demean abuse victims by trying to say it justifies his own crimes!

  8. I too was abused and likewise have never killed anyone. I abhore the outdated barbaric act of death penalty. It serves no purpose just compounds suffering creating more victims. USA, the world is watching with disgust your outdated legal system. You are far from the world leaders you think you are

    • it removes this filth from our society that's plenty reason to support it. and if your countries wants to screw victims over and not punish killers that's your problem but this is america and we can make our own laws so you euro trash and get bent!

  9. It is terrible that Daniel Cook was abused as a child and I am sure it led to his demise but the fact that he was on Crystal Meth is a terrible sign that he was on the wrong path. However I do not agree with executing him, how about rehabilitation and a drug free life?

  10. Lee Shropshire – I think we'd all have much more respect for your views if you didn't engage in such childish banter and actually conversed in an intelligent, respectful manner without resorting to such vile language to denigrate those who do not agree with you. You'll find that there are many people who would support the DP were it not for disproportionate use or wrongful convictions. However, your vitriolic hateful and aggressive language sounds to me just as aggressive and vile as those violent criminals that you abhor.

  11. We should execute people who hurt children and take the money we would spend on their. Incarceration and use it to help victims of abuse. How is that for breaking the cycle.