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Minnesota Viking Chris Cook

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

On tape, Chris Cook's girlfriend said she was choked

  • Article by: ABBY SIMONS
  • Star Tribune
  • March 9, 2012 - 9:10 PM

The girlfriend of Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook didn't hesitate to tell a police officer that Cook choked her early in the morning of Oct. 22, according to a recording played Friday during Cook's felony domestic assault trial.

During testimony by Eden Prairie police officer Janina Ann Wresh, prosecutors played an audio recording of an interview between Wresh and Chantel Baker the night police responded to the disturbance at Cook's townhouse. On the recording, Baker described how Cook choked her upstairs on the bed during their argument, and again downstairs. She could not breathe the second time, she told the officer.

"I said, 'You're not supposed to do that. You're not supposed to put your hands on a girl,'" she told the officer.

Photos of Baker from that night show her face slightly scraped and swollen, her nose bloodied and prominent red marks on the left side of her neck.

Cook, 25, is charged with felony domestic assault by strangulation and felony third-degree assault. Prosecutors say that because Baker had texted an ex-boyfriend, Cook choked and struck her with enough force to send her into a wall and tear her eardrum. Cook remains on paid leave from the Vikings.

On the opening day of Cook's trial, Baker testified that she lied about being choked, to ensure that Cook went to jail. Prosecutors portrayed her as the victim of a brutal assault by a jealous boyfriend, who recanted her story days later out of guilt and fear that she could ruin Cook's football career.

Cook's defense attorneys say Baker, a 21-year-old Virginia college student, was violent and destructive when she attacked Cook at his townhouse, then lied that he'd choked her to ensure he'd spend the night in jail. They say he struck her with an open hand in self-defense after she struck him in the back of the head with a high-heeled shoe.

Under cross-examination, defense attorney John Lucas challenged Wresh's testimony that Cook was aggressive when officers arrived at the scene, saying there's no mention of that in her report.

Testimony will resume Monday.

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

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