FARMINGTON — A former Wilton man pleaded guilty Friday to escaping from a jail van last year, stealing a woman’s Jeep and assaulting a corrections officer.

Derek Cook, 32, pleaded guilty to a robbery charge, an escape charge, two charges of eluding an officer and a charge of assault on an officer in a Franklin County court. 

His pleas stipulated that he is not guilty but thinks that if a jury believed the state’s evidence, he would be found guilty.

Cook also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief for damage done at the Franklin County jail.

Judge Nancy Carlson sentenced Cook to serve seven-and-a-half years of a 15-year sentence for robbery, followed by four years of probation. He was sentenced to serve seven-and-a-half years for escape, and five years each for eluding an officer and assault on an officer.

A conviction for robbery is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

The state dismissed seven charges in the negotiated plea agreement, including felony charges of burglary and theft.

Since his arrest, Cook has been serving time at a state prison in Warren on a probation violation related to a drug conviction.

Franklin County jail transport officer Cpl. Phillip Richards picked up Cook at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn on March 1, 2016, and was driving him and two other inmates to the Franklin County Detention Center in Farmington.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said if the case had gone to trial, he would have presented testimony that when Cook swapped seats with a fellow inmate, Richards asked what was going on. Cook asked him to stop the van so he could relieve himself. Richards said no, but a short time later Richards noticed the sliding van door was open 6 to 8 inches.

Cook told Richards if he didn’t stop the van he would jump. Richards stopped to shut the door near A-Tec Auto Service on Route 133 in Wilton. Cook jumped out and went to the edge of the woods and Richards ordered him back to the van several times. Cook had gotten one handcuff off and Richards used it to haul Cook back to the van, Robbins said.

According to a police affidavit, Cook took a handcuff key off Richards’ duty belt as the two struggled near the van. Once in the vehicle Cook refused to give it back. With Cook trying to get out of the van, Richards sprayed him with an entire can of pepper spray but Cook used his free hand to cover his face.

Cook, who was wearing leg irons, pushed Richards down and slammed him into the side of the van and ran to a nearby residence. He broke down doors at the home to get to the woman who had been alerted by her daughter what was going on. Cook demanded keys to her Jeep and grabbed her and she told him where they were.

Cook drove off and led police from several agencies on a high-speed chase until he crashed the Jeep into a tree in Chesterville.

Richards was taken to a hospital for his injuries.

Carlson ordered Cook to pay $1,500 to the victims first, then $2,133.79 to Maine Municipal Association Worker’s Compensation Fund and $335 to the Sheriff’s Office.

Robbins said the victims were not necessarily supportive of the agreement but were understanding of it. They hope Cook gets the help he needs, he said. It was terribly terrorizing for the victim, he said.

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Derek Cook

Derek Cook, 32, formerly of Wilton, pleaded guilty to escaping from a Franklin County jail van, robbing a woman of her Jeep and assaulting a corrections officer on March 1, 2016. Cook crashed the Jeep in Chesterville after leading police on a high-speed chase. 


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