Texas Execution Information Center

Execution Report: Vincent Cooks

Vincent Cooks
Vincent Cooks
Executed on 12 December 2001

Vincent Edward Cooks, 37, was executed by lethal injection on 12 December in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a policeman during a robbery.

In February 1988, supermarket owner Mark DeCardenas went to the bank to obtain $30,000 in cash for the store's check cashing service. Gary Don McCarthy, 33, a Dallas police officer who was working as the store's security guard, accompanied him. McCarthy was not in uniform. While DeCardenas and McCarthy were at the bank, Dallas police officers noticed a trio of men sitting in a parked Plymouth outside of a supermarket. They found no reason to detain the men, but they did note the license plate of the car.

After the police left, two of the men -- Vincent Cooks, 23, and Tony Harvey, 23 -- got out of the Plymouth and entered an Oldsmobile. Tracy Stallworth, 27, stayed in the Plymouth. When they spotted DeCardenas and McCarthy returning to the store, Cooks exited the Oldsmobile and approached DeCardenas and McCarthy on foot. Waving his gun, he demanded the money bag and tried to grab it from DeCardenas. McCarthy pushed him away and DeCardenas dropped the bag. Cooks then shot McCarthy and grabbed a bundle amounting to $10,000. Cooks got into the stolen Oldsmobile and fled. McCarthy shot at the car and shattered its rear window. McCarthy was then taken to a hospital, where he died.

Police found the Oldsmobile with the shattered rear window, abandoned. A revolver was found inside. Police also traced the license plate of the Plymouth to Tracy Stallworth. They arrested Stallworth the day after the shooting. Stallworth named Cooks and Harvey as accomplices. A witness later picked out Cooks from a police lineup and identified him as the killer of Officer McCarthy.

Cooks had previously been convicted of aggravated assault in a case that included him firing shots at a police officer. He began serving a 5-year sentence in December 1986. He served 8 months before being paroled, in August 1987. (At this time, early parole was common in Texas because of strict prison population caps imposed by U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice.)

At his punishment hearing, prosecutors presented evidence that Cooks committed two very similar armed robberies prior to the one in which Gary McCarthy was killed. In November 1987, a grocery store owner was robbed after a bank run, and police found fingerprints belonging to Cooks and Stallworth on a stolen car that was abandoned nearby. The other armed robbery Cooks was believed to have committed occurred in January 1988, when a liquor store employee was robbed while returning from the bank.

While awaiting trial in jail, Cooks threatened to kill or beat any police who "messed" with him.

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