Former Joint Base Lewis-McChord service member sentenced to prison for home invasion, sexual assault
The News Tribune December 28, 2022
(Tribune News Service) — A man formerly stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord was sentenced this month to 11 years to life in prison for breaking into a stranger's apartment in Lakewood in 2018 and raping her while her children slept.
Derante Rashawn Cook was sentenced Dec. 22 to at least 11 years and four months in prison for the home invasion and sexual assault. Once that time is served, it will be up to a review board to decide whether Cook should be released from custody. He could spend his life behind bars.
If Cook is released, he will be required to register as a sex offender, and he will be under community supervision for life. Records state he had no prior criminal convictions.
The defendant was stationed at JBLM as recently as 2020, according to court records. Sometime that year, he moved to Texas and was stationed at Fort Hood, a military base that has faced major scrutiny in recent years. There, Cook, 27, was arrested for allegedly assaulting his wife, which required the man's DNA to be taken. That's what led Washington investigators to match Cook to DNA collected from the Lakewood rape kit.
A spokesperson for JBLM was not able to confirm Cook's military rank Wednesday or how long the man was stationed there.
After being extradited to Pierce County, Cook's case proceeded to a jury trial in October in Superior Court. The trial took seven days, and once lawyers made their closing arguments Oct. 24, jurors deliberated for about a day before finding Cook guilty of first-degree rape and first-degree burglary with sexual motivation.
Prosecuting attorneys said the Feb. 17, 2018, rape made it difficult for the victim to interact with other people, and she eventually broke the lease on the apartment where she was attacked because she didn't feel safe, according to court filings.
In most cases of rape, the attacker knows the person they are targeting. Cases such as this, where the two are complete strangers, are frightening but uncommon. According to statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 91.9 percent of women who are victims of rape reported being assaulted by an intimate partner or acquaintance.
Court records state that the woman was sleeping the night of the attack and was awoken by Cook pulling her from her bed to the floor, then dragging her to a bathroom. Her husband was out with friends, and her children, then ages 7 and 2, were at home asleep. Records state that Cook may have entered the house through an unlocked patio door.
During the attack, prosecutors said Cook held a pillow or blanket over the victim's face, making it difficult for her to describe her attacker when Lakewood Police Department officers arrived at about 1:40 a.m.
Police canvassed the area, but no one was found. According to court records, results of the rape kit collected from the victim returned in June 2018, but no matching DNA was found. In December 2020, prosecutors said the Washington State Patrol's crime lab found a match while doing routine checks running unknown DNA profiles through the FBI's national DNA database.
The crime lab identified Cook, and a federal warrant was issued to swab the defendant for DNA for further testing. According to court records, the swab confirmed Cook's DNA was found in the rape kit, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
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