The state of Utah has never sentenced a woman to death. However, a yoga teacher and mother could be the first if she’s convicted of the crime with which she is charged. Chelsea Watrous Cook, 32, of Herriman, Utah shot and killed her ex-husband’s girlfriend in front of their two children on November 25th. Authorities charged Cook with aggravated murder on Wednesday, December 5th.
According to a report in the Deseret News, the crime occurred after Cook went over to her ex-husband’s, Travis Cook, apartment to drop off cold medicine for one of their 3-year-old sons. Cook and Travis agreed to meet outside in the parking lot to exchange the medication.
When Travis went to the parking lot, he could not find Cook. While Travis waited in the parking lot, Cook snuck into the locked apartment complex through an unlocked door.
After waiting outside for a few minutes, Travis returned to the apartment. When he entered the apartment, he found Cook in the living room with his girlfriend, Lisa Vilate Williams, and children.
According to the police report, Travis asked her to leave multiple times. However, Cook refused to leave the apartment. When she wouldn’t leave, Travis picked up the phone to call 911. While he called the police, Cook locked herself in the bathroom.
The police report stated that approximately 15 seconds after she went into the bathroom, she walked out of the bathroom toward her coat. Travis’ back was to Cook, but he heard three loud gunshots go off behind him.
Travis said he turned around and saw her pointing the gun at Lisa Williams. After she shot the gun, Travis grabbed the weapon from her hands. He went back to the phone to call 911. Cook sat down on a couch with her two sons.
A few moments later, Travis said Cook stood up and walked toward her coat. Afraid that she might have another gun in her jacket, he pinned Cook to the ground and waited for police to arrive.
While frantically holding down his ex-wife, Travis commanded the two children go to their room and close the door.
When police arrived at the home, they arrested Cook for the aggravated murder of Lisa Williams. Lisa died at the hospital after sustaining three gunshot wounds.
Following the news of William’s murder, her family told the local media that Cook had been harassing Williams in the months leading up to the crime. William’s sister Bekah Williams told the Associated Press that Cook bullied her sister online and through in-person confrontations.
“I worried for her safety every day,” said her mother, Tawny Williams.
According to Bekah, Lisa and Travis met through work. She said they had only been dating for about six months before Chelsea murdered her. Bekah said that Chelsea started harassing Lisa in June.
Bekah alleged that Chelsea confronted Lisa at the bank she worked at, on Instagram, and made calls from the high school she worked at as a health teacher.
In addition to the harassment of Lisa, Chelsea cook had been charged with domestic violence in October. The incident took place in front of her two children. Chelsea pleaded not guilty in that case.
According to Bekah, Chelsea’s arrest for domestic violence did not include Lisa. However, Lisa tried to report the harassing phone calls she received from Chelsea at work to her employer. Unfortunately, Bekah said the school failed to act on the harassment reports.
Despite the relentless harassment Lisa endured by Chelsea, Bekah said Lisa refused to file a police report against Chelsea. Bekah said Lisa believed that involving the police would make the situation hard on the kids.
After Cook’s arrest, the U.S. 3rd District court formally charged her with first-degree felony charge of aggravated burglary and three counts of felony discharge of a firearm — one first-degree felony, one second-degree felony and one third-degree felony — as well as two counts of committing a violent offense in the presence of a child, a class B misdemeanor.
With the magnitude of the crime, prosecutors need to decide if they will seek the death penalty in the case. If prosecutors decide to seek the death penalty, Cook will be the first woman in Utah history to face the death sentence.
Following her arraignment on the murder charges, Cook remained incarcerated at Salt Lake County Jail without bail. Her next court date hadn’t been scheduled as of December 5th.
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