OBERLIN, Kansas -- Dylan Coryell is guilty of the second-degree murder of Corey Cook, did it intentionally but without premeditation, a jury determined today.
After deliberating four hours and 35 minutes Tuesday and an hour and 15 minutes today, the jury also found Coryell guilty of knowing aggravated battery.
Judge Preston Pratt then sent the jury back into deliberation to determine aggravating factors, such as whether Cook was particularly vulnerable because he was asleep, and that there was a great risk of death to more than one person.
That determination will be used by the court to set the length of sentence.
Few members of the gallery, either on the side of the defendant or the victim, showed emotion as the verdicts were handed down.
Coryell pleaded not guilty to a charge of premeditated murder in the shooting death of Corey Cook on Oct. 16, 2011, in a farmhouse in Decatur County, Kansas, and to an aggravated battery charge in the injury of Cook's, and his, girlfriend, Sarah Campbell.
Pratt instructed the jury that on Count 1, it could have found Coryell not guilty; or guilty of premeditated murder in the first degree, of having intentionally killed Corey Cook, and that the killing was done with premeditation, (to have thought the matter over beforehand, to have formed the design or intent to kill before the act, requiring more than an instantaneous, intentional taking of another's life); or guilty of one of the lesser included offenses of:
* Murder in the second degree, in which the jury must determine that Dylan Coryell intentionally killed Corey Cook, or that he killed Corey Cook unintentionally but recklessly under circumstances that show extreme indifference to the value of human life; (when the defendant consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result of the defendant's actions will follow. This act by a defendant disregarding the risk must be a gross deviation from the standard of care a reasonable person would use in the same situation, Pratt said.)
* Voluntary manslaughter, if the jury determines that Dylan Coryell intentionally killed Corey Cook, but that it was done in the heat of passion (meaning an intense or vehement emotional excitement which was spontaneously provoked from circumstances).
* Involuntary manslaughter, if the jury determines that Dylan Coryell killed Corey Cook and that it was done recklessly.
On Count 2, that of aggravated battery, the jury could have found Coryell not guilty; or guilty of aggravated battery, that of knowingly causing bodily harm to Sarah Campbell with a deadly weapon.
Judge Pratt explained that knowing aggravated battery has the lesser included offense of reckless aggravated battery, that the defendant recklessly caused bodily harm to Campbell with a deadly weapon.
In her closing statement, prosecuting attorney Nicole Romine told jurors that Dylan Coryell said to the 911 dispatcher, "I did it," that "We need an ambulance." She said that throughout the trial and evidence, there is "no explanation of the elaborate, mystery man who threw the gun to Dylan Coryell."
Romine asked jurors, "How in the world does someone throw Dylan Coryell a gun, and Dylan cocks it, and Dylan pulls the trigger, all 'accidentally' happening to hit Corey Cook square in the face, and missing Sarah Campbell?"
"The shotgun doesn't go off on its own," Romine said. It had to be broken open, loaded, closed, cocked, and the trigger pulled, "requiring a human being to take multiple actions on it."
All of this preceded by "crazy drama made worse by people looking for drama and attention," Romine said. She said Sarah Campbell first hid her relationship with Dylan from Corey, and then her relationship with Corey from Dylan. And she tried to cover up even further by lying to her friend, Jordan Urban, about visiting her mother in Phillipsburg, Romine said, when she was instead staying with Corey at Ryan McEvoy's house.
Romine said that Dylan discovered that Sarah was with Corey that Saturday evening in October when he and friends went to pick up another friend, Keithen Fortin, at a party at McEvoy's. Dylan's text message, Romine said, was "We're coming to pick you up. Be outside, so I don't have to kill Corey."
Dylan to Sarah: "Watch yourself. If I have to get out (of the vehicle), I'll beat Corey up."
Dylan to Cameron Weishapl: " ... in the mood to kill."
Dylan was not "indifferent" to Sarah's relationship with Corey, as the defense contends, Romine said.
Romine said that Dylan "had the time to get angrier, feeding off the anger of others," as everyone drank heavily at parties at McEvoy's and at Andrew Richards' houses, trading text messages that escalated in hatred and threats with the amounts of beer, Jaegermeister, Royal Crown and Northern Lights consumed.
Dylan Coryell's attorney, Justin Barrett, in his closing statement said that Dylan Coryell was one of a very few that evening trying "to avoid a fight," texting at one point, "I don't want to fight, but I will if I have to."
"The only thing he discussed was a fist fight," Barrett said. "There was no intent to premeditatedly murder someone in his sleep."
It was not a surprise to Dylan, Barrett said, to know that Sarah Campbell was with Corey Cook that day. "He knew he was 'the other guy,'" Barrett said. "It was not a surprise to see Sarah Campbell with someone else. Sarah made it clear to Dylan that she was moving on with Corey."
Barrett said that the person with motive was Everett Urban, because Corey called Everett's wife, Jordan, "a whore," and because Corey taunted Everett after Everett's failed suicide attempt at an earlier time by, and because Corey indicated to Everett that he (Corey) would not stop texting and communicating with Everett's wife, with whom he had also had a relationship.
"Now, there's a motive to load and cock a gun and throw it to your buddy," Barrett said.
Barrett also pointed out that Everett Urban gave at least four versions of the evening to authorities. "New details ... not the same as his original story ... conflicting stories," Barrett said. "Everett could not be at the front door and 'see' Dylan at the bedroom door with a gun," he said.
The truth isn't something that you have to struggle to remember, Barrett said. Everett Urban's testimony and his body language during interviews and interrogations "should seem fishy to you," Barrett told the jury.
Barrett urged caution in believing Everett Urban's and Killian Dellere's testimonies. "Consider with caution accomplices who could still be charged with their actions," Barrett said.
"Dylan called 911, not once, but twice," Barrett said. "He told Jordan (Urban) to call the police. A person who intended for a shooting to happen doesn't call 911."
Dylan admits not knowing what happened in the house, admits not knowing whether he hit someone, Barrett said.
What he did do, Barrett said, is ask the KBI interrogator, "Can I ask if Corey's okay?"
"That's concern," Barrett said. "That is not the way someone with premeditation acts."
Barrett encouraged the jury to consider this from Dylan's perspective. "Someone throws him a gun. He's looking at the gun -- he has to catch it -- not at who threw the gun," Barrett said.
It was the state's burden to prove who threw the gun, Barrett said, and it did not.
Barrett lambasted investigators, accusing them of 'tunnel vision'. Poor and/or lacking investigation "robbed you (the jury) of the opportunity to view more evidence of who loaded, cocked and pulled the trigger," Barrett said. He told the jury that among the evidence and videos, "You'll see the tunnel vision. 'They've got their man, with the gun in his hand. Case closed'."
Barrett said that necessary investigations were not done for the state to prove its case.
"Where the burden's not met," Barrett said, "find Dylan Coryell not guilty of what he's charged with."
"Sometimes accidents happen," Barrett said sadly. "I implore you -- premeditated, intentional murder does not fit."
In rebuttal, Romine accused Barrett of "smoke screens," "distractions" and "misdirections."
It boils down, Romine said, to whether the jury believes Dylan Coryell, or not. "How does a gun get thrown to him, and accidentally gets around to the angle to shoot Corey in the face?" she asks the jury. "Your dilemma to solve, is what was Dylan Coryell's mental state?"
Romine told the jury it has Dylan Coryell's statement; evidence; a properly-operating shotgun; "and Corey Cook's dead body. You've got what you've got. And it's more than enough to find Dylan Coryell guilty of premeditated first degree murder."