On Thursday, July 1, Kendell Cooks, 38, was convicted of Assault 1st Degree-Serious Physical Injury, Armed Criminal Action, and Property Damage Second Degree. The verdict was handed down by the court based on evidence presented in a bench trial in Division 18 on June 14. Sentencing was set for August 20.
At trial, the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant assaulted the victim with a dangerous weapon on June 19, 2019, knowingly causing serious bodily injury and property damage.
The victim managed the defendant’s daughter at a McDonald’s in Chesterfield. On June 19, 2019, the victim fired her for using profanity near customers and wearing clothing not up to work standards. While showing her to the door, the victim stumbled as he let her out and bumped into her from behind, slightly. She took that to be a shove.
She called her aunt, who told her father, Kendell Cooks, that she had been shoved out the door. The defendant then drove to the McDonald’s along with another vehicle. They found the victim taking a break inside his car parked near an enclosure on the parking lot and blocked the victim’s car so he couldn’t escape. What ensued was captured on the victim’s dashboard camera and his 911 call.
The defendant found a garden rake with metal tines inside the enclosure along with the store’s other landscaping tools. He beat in the driver’s window of the victim’s car with the metal end of the rake, then assaulted the victim with the wooden handle. In the brutal assault, the victim lost his left eye. He also suffered nerve damage in his face and still has difficulty walking and driving.
A Chesterfield Police detective obtained a videotaped confession from the defendant that was played in court. The defendant confessed to the crime but defended his actions by saying that the victim “laid his hands” on his child. The in-store video, in fact, showed minimal and inadvertent contact between the victim and the defendant’s daughter.
Defense counsel argued that the defendant acted in sudden passion and the court should consider that as a mitigating factor. The court specifically rejected that argument in finding the defendant guilty on all counts.