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Murder suspect fights extradition
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The man accused of killing a local couple in their home is fighting extradition as law enforcement officials try to bring him back to Tennessee to face murder charges.
Bryan Cooke, 39, has been released from a hospital and is in jail in Jacksonville, Fla. He was arrested Tuesday morning after police broke down his hotel room door and found him lying naked on a bed next to a pile of cash.
Cooke is accused of killing Gary and Gail Dodson in their Fairview-area home. Investigators place the time of the crime between 9 p.m. Sunday, the last known contact with the Dodsons, and 5:30 a.m. Monday, the time their bodies were discovered.
District Attorney Lisa Zavogiannis says returning Cooke to Warren County should not present a problem.
“If he wasn’t fighting this, we’d already have him back here,” said Zavogiannis. “But this is not a big deal. I have to get a governor’s warrant from our governor and present it to their governor to get the OK to bring him back. It should take about 30 days. He’s just sitting in that jail instead of sitting in this one.”
Zavogiannis said Cooke is serving what is called “dead time” because he won’t get any credit for the days he serves in Florida. If he was in Tennessee, he would get credit for every day he serves and it would be applied to any sentence he may receive.
As for what that sentence may be, Zavogiannis said the death penalty is not off the table.
“Any time you have a murder case, you have to consider that and see if it’s the type of case that warrants that,” said Zavogiannis when asked about pursuing the death penalty. “We’re still investigating and gathering information on how to proceed.”
Zavogiannis said Cooke will be charged with two counts of criminal homicide. Other charges are possible as the investigation unfolds.
Law enforcement officials have yet to indicate how the Dodsons were killed. It is not believed they were shot.
Sheriff’s Department investigator Bo Ramsey made the trip to Florida to interview Cooke. However, Cooke refused to talk.
“He did not give a statement at all,” said Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny.
Cooke was found about 530 miles from McMinnville in Jacksonville when a hotel clerk noticed suspicious behavior as he was checking in. Cooke reportedly told the clerk he didn’t have ID, but he gave his correct name and was seen with a large wad of cash. He called 911 from his room and didn’t answer several knocks on the door to check on his well-being.
Officers were called to the scene when it was determined Cooke was wanted in Tennessee. Officers who broke down the door found Cooke had piled furniture in front of it to barricade himself in the room. He only had a blank stare when asked questions and was transported to a nearby hospital.