Cook testifies in trial

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The man who bludgeoned Marshall Gill to death more than two years ago said he didn’t mean to kill his aunt’s husband.

Curtis Cook took the stand Tuesday during the capital murder trial of his aunt, Vanessa Gill, to explain how his aunt talked him into beating her husband because he had cheated on her and treated her badly.

The prosecution will continue to present its case today at the Dallas County Courthouse. The case is expected to last the remainder of the week.

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On Tuesday, Cook told the jury that Gill’s death “wasn’t intentional.”

“I only intended to beat Marshall Gill up,” Cook said while on the witness stand, “not kill him.”

Cook faces capital murder charges later. He testified he had received no deal from the district attorney’s office to testify in the case. “I just want to get myself right with God,” he said.

Defense attorney Julian McPhillips made much of the three statements Cook gave authorities in the days after Gill’s death. At one point, Cook told authorities he killed Gill in self defense after a drug deal went bad. In another statement, Cook also said he beat Gill to death after Gill didn’t deliver a package of drugs he had promised Cook.

Cook said he didn’t tell the story about Vanessa Gill’s role in the incident because he was “trying to help her out.” Cook said he told authorities about Vanessa after he had a conversion experience.

In his third statement given to authorities, Cook said he donned a mask and waited until Marshall Gill put luggage in the car parked at the Gills’ home in Valley Grande. Vanessa Gill was in the house. Cook said he sneaked up on Marshall Gill and hit him with an aluminum baseball bat, knocking the man down.

“I caught him off guard,” Cook said. “I just beat him up.”

At one point, Vanessa Gill came out of the house and poked Cook with a stick to get him to stop hitting her husband with the baseball bat, Cook said. “She basically was telling me that was enough,” Cook said.

Among the other witnesses that testified for the prosecution, Marshall Gill’s cousin, Odell Gill Jones, said she came down from New York after hearing of her cousin’s death. Jones said she was surprised when she saw Vanessa Gill and the widow did not burst into tears or become hysterical.

“If my husband had been killed, I would still be crying,” Jones said. “I can only speak for myself. I cannot speak for Vanessa. I can only speak for myself.”