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Saturday, December 09, 2023
Alec Cook's first trial is set to begin on Feb. 26 and will cover six of the more serious charges. 

Alec Cook's first trial is set to begin on Feb. 26 and will cover six of the more serious charges. 

Alec Cook’s attorneys land thousands of pages of previously unseen evidence

Attorneys of suspended UW-Madison student Alec Cook are set to receive at least 2,800 pages of police reports and other evidence previously undisclosed by the prosecution after an emergency motion was filed Friday requesting the release of the material.

Cook’s attorneys, Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, requested in the motion that the state turn over the following: any physical evidence that the state intends to use at trial, a list of witnesses that would be called at trial, a written summary of videotaped or recorded written and oral statements made by Cook and the witnesses, including emails, text messages or any other form of electronic messages, as well as a summary of any expert’s testimony.

“This allows us, in this and every other case, to see what they have and then do our own follow-up investigation,” Van Wagner told The Daily Cardinal in an email. “That happens in every case, but a 138-day delay from charging date to turnover of ‘discovery’ is not at all common; in fact, it is really rare and unusual. That is why we felt we were obligated to go to the judge for some relief, by blowing the whistle on this ‘legal foul.’”

Nicholson agreed with her colleague.

“I’d like to have the opportunity to do my job and defend my client,” Nicholson told the Cardinal. “That requires having the materials we are constitutionally entitled to.”

Van Wagner and Nicholson have informally requested the documents be released by the state at least 10 separate times through emails, phone calls and “in-person chats.”

“They reneged on an informal agreement we made with them by which they would have the first 2,800 pages of reports and documents to us last week,” Van Wagner said. “By filing the motion, we forced the prosecutors to do something in response. And we invoked the power of the judge to supervise and facilitate production of the reports. Without his involvement, the state would have been able to continue to drag its feet if it chose to do so.”

Johnny Koremenos, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Justice, said the sensitive nature of the documents accounts for the delay.

“DOJ is still in the process of redacting the discovery to ensure protection of the privacy rights of the victims,” Koremenos said. “It is taking longer than initially anticipated.”

Cook, from Edina, Minn., faces 21 charges involving 10 women. The charges include strangulation, sexual assault, stalking and false imprisonment. Fifteen of the counts are felonies.

The documents, ordered to release by Thursday at 4 p.m., will not be made public.

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