‘Justice’ found for family of slain former student; murderer sentenced to 40 years to life in prison

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The killer of a former El Camino student was convicted of second-degree murder and use of a firearm and was sentenced to 40 years to life in prison, by a Torrance judge Tuesday morning.

18-year-old Jordan Joseph shot and killed Kody Ryan Cook, 18, former El Camino student, in the early afternoon of June 26, 2015.

At the start of Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Joseph’s attorney requested that a new trial be called for his client saying a “substantial amount of evidence” was shown to the jury that Joseph acted in self-defense, but that no proper efforts were made to show the jury how accurate the self-defense claim was.

The presiding judge, Alan B. Honeycutt, denied his request for a new trial.

“I’ve been in this chair for almost 10 years,” Honeycutt said. “I’ve seen cases similar to this many times (at the Torrance Courthouse). This case will stand out forever in the senseless loss of life. The loss of life in this case is not simply to Kody, but to his family. The loss of life in this case is also to you, Mr. Joseph.”

Joseph admitted in the last court hearing that he shot Cook, but said it was in self-defense because he “feared for his life.”

Joseph approached Cook’s grey BMW at the Baskin Robbins on Crenshaw Boulevard down the street from campus.

“What’s up,” Cook said, according to testimony from Joseph.

Cook tried tor each for gun, he said, when Joseph pulled out his own gun and shot at Cook six times as he said, “What’s up now?”

Cook was hit four times in the head and neck area, and was dead on arrival.

Joseph’s punishment is the maximum allowed by law.

Family Statements

Joseph’s grandfather, Julius Dorsey, was the first to take to the podium and called for the court to show mercy on his grandson.

“I have prayed for the Cook family, because they have lost a loved one,” Dorsey said. “I am saying to this court they (the prosecution) have painted a false picture of my grandson. There were things said by the attorneys and jurors that were untrue.”

While speaking Dorsey started to turn and directly address the audience behind him, some of whom were Cook’s family members. As he got more worked up speaking, Honeycutt asked Dorsey to calm down and turn around to face him.

Following Dorsey’s comments, Cook’s family and friends came up to the podium and addressed the court about their loss.

“I still have no idea why your (Joseph’s) heart was filled (with) so much hate and anger towards Kody,” Billie Strong, neighbor and close friend of Cook, said. “I lost my brother, even though we weren’t the same blood, he was family.”

Cook’s family members visibly fought through tears; as they also shared fond memories of the 18-year-old aspiring rapper.

“The time Kody took a young lady to the prom he hadn’t met and had no romantic interest in, because she had no prom date and he was the only one her mom trusted to take her,” Diedre Cook, Kody’s mother, said. “His high for the day was coming home to his family.”

Every person on Cook’s side requested the same thing: justice.

“The sentence you receive here today is a token payment for the debt you owe Kody’s family,” Diedre Cook said.

Sentencing

Honeycutt then reviewed the charges for which the jury found Joseph guilty: 15 years-to-life for second-degree murder, and 25 years-to-life for use of a firearm, totaling 40 years-to-life with an opportunity for parole after 40 years.

The judge reminded Joseph of his right to a written appeal to the sentence that must be submitted within 60 days, his attorney responded they would be submitting and he would work on drafting it right after the hearing.

Joseph was then returned to police custody.

Editor’s note: Sept. 28, 12:39 p.m. Story changed for clarity.