Man convicted of killing mother, son sentenced to life in prison

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AKRON, OH (WOIO) - A convicted killer will spend the rest of his life behind bars for killing a mother and her son.

On July 20th, after the mitigation and sentencing hearing, the jury recommended that Johnnie Cook, 32, be sentenced to Life without Parole. The jury heard testimony that entailed mitigating circumstances about Cook's life and why the death penalty should not be imposed for the murders. After deliberating almost four hours, they returned with their recommended sentence.

On July 8th, the jury found Cook guilty of four counts of Aggravated Murder with a death specification, two counts of Aggravated Robbery, two counts of Aggravated Burglary, Theft, Grand Theft and Theft from the Elderly.

On July 11th, 2009, at approximately 4:30AM, 43-year-old Alan Grna and his 85-year-old mother, Julianna, were murdered inside their home on Johnston Street in Akron. Both victims were struck multiple times in the head with a hammer-like object. Alan Grna was killed in the kitchen and Julianna Grna was killed in her bedroom. Cook stole the victims' car, cell phone, jewelry, firearms and credit cards.

The bodies were not discovered until July 17th when a concerned friend contacted the police. Evidence presented at trial included Cook's use of Grna's cell phone and car the evening of the murders. The car was involved in a hit/skip accident. In addition, Cook pawned the victim's jewelry two days after the murder.

DNA evidence discovered on the sink handle and the inside of a toilet paper roll in the victim's bathroom was consistent with Cook trying to clean up after the murders. A witness, Joseph Johnston, told police that he saw the defendant around the time of the murders with blood on his shirt and with the victim's car.

Subsequent to Cook's arrest, Johnston was arrested for an unrelated offense. Three letters were later sent from jail confessing to the murders and signed by Joseph Johnson (last name was misspelled). Prosecutors presented evidence at trial that the letters were actually sent by Cook using Johnston's name.

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