Figure in Sherry slayings loses appeal of sentence

Published 9:32 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A federal appeals court has upheld the sentence given to a former police officer who violated terms of his release after serving time for arranging the 1987 slayings of a Mississippi Gulf Coast Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife, Margaret.

Glenn Joseph Cook Sr., one of six people convicted in the slayings, admitted to hiring a hitman to kill the Sherrys and pleaded guilty in 1998 to intimidating a federal witness. Other charges were dropped.

He received nine years in prison, which he served concurrently with the sentence for an unrelated drug conviction. In June 2008, he was released.

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Within a month, though, Cook was found to have violated the terms of his supervised release and sentenced to another five years behind bars by U.S. District Judge Keith Starrett.

Cook complained the sentence was too harsh. A panel of 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the sentence Tuesday.

The 5th Circuit panel said the sentence was within statutory guidelines. The panel also said Starrett explained that Cook was a danger to the community, because of Cook’s criminal history and events in prison, and because he threatened family members and became involved in altercations with them after his release.

Cook, now in a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, was working for a strip club Biloxi operator who’d been contracted to put a hit on the judge and his wife. The order had come from a prisoner in Louisiana who believed the judge had stolen money from him.

Cook at first agreed to shoot the Sherrys, but backed out. Cook hired a hitman and delivered payments to him, according to court documents.