CULPEPER, Va. (WUSA) - Murder suspect and Culpeper police officer Daniel Harmon-Wright turned his face to avoid cameras on Friday as he left the Culpeper County Courthouse under heavy security. Judge Timothy Sanner set Daniel Harmon-Wright's bail at $100,000 secured bond on Friday.
He's charged with murder and three other related counts in the shooting death of 54-year-old Patricia Cook. The housewife and Sunday school teacher was unarmed sitting in her Jeep Wrangler in a Catholic school parking lot.
The first two shots, at point blank range, hit Cook in her face and arm, but were not fatal, said Special Prosecutor Jim Fisher. But the other five shots Harmon-Wright took as he stepped into the street and fired at Cook as she drove away, were the ones that killed her, according to Fisher.
Court records show photos of three holes in the back of the Wrangler's soft top. Fisher said one bullet pierced the headrest and went into Cook's brain. Another severed her spine and hit her heart.
Defense Attorney Daniel Hawes says his client saw Cook as a threat to himself at first, and then to the community. Hawes says Cook was acting recklessly and assaulted Harmon-Wright by rolling up her window and trapping his fingers. Hawes says Harmon-Wright stepped onto the running board and shot Cook because he feared bodily harm. Hawes says Cook drove away with the sunshield still on the windshield and could not see, so was therefore putting others in danger.
When it was suggested to Hawes that perhaps Cook was just trying to get away after having been shot twice, he said, "She's not on trial. What was going through her mind is not on trial."
In argument against granting bond, Fisher revealed a incident that happened exactly one month before the fatal shooting of Cook, which led to a reprimand of Harmon-Wright for using excessive force with his firearm and forcing his way into a Culpeper home without a search warrant.
Patrick Wilson, 19, told the special grand jury which indicted Harmon-Wright, that the officer pulled a gun on him in his home. Wilson told 9NewsNow that the officer knocked on the door of his family's home on January 9th at around 8 a.m. His mother was awakened and answered the door in her pajamas. Wilson said the officer demanded that he be allowed to search the home because there was a suspicious person in the area.
Wilson said he woke up to Officer Harmon-Wright pointing a gun at his face and telling him to get down on the ground. Wilson said he did as he was told while the officer, gun drawn, searched the home.
The suspicious person turned out to be Wilson's younger brother who was walking to school. Their mother filed a complaint with the police department but Patrick Wilson said they never heard anything about it until they were asked to testify before the special grand jury.
When Wilson found out Harmon-Wright was granted bond, he was incredulous. "He should go to jail and stay there. He's very much a threat."
The judge granted $100,000 bond, and which means he could be released as soon as his family raises enough money.
After Friday arraignment, a family member tried to keep journalists away from Harmon- Wright's mother, Bethany Sullivan who is charged with forgery and lying about her son's record. She worked for the then-police chief in 2005 when her son was hired as a police officer five years ago. Special prosecutor Jim Fisher says a sergeant and lieutenant who interviewed him recommended against hiring him because of a history of alcohol abuse.
Harmon-Wright, whose last name was Sullivan at the time, was hired despite a recommendation not to hire him.
Court documents show six months after Harmon-Wright was hired, he was reprimanded by the police chief for not being truthful.
A special grand jury indicted Harmon-Wright of murder May 29. Since then, he has been on unpaid leave with the Town of Culpeper and has been held in jail.