Iolan reaches plea deal in 2016 killing



October 24, 2017 - 12:00 AM

Rhonda Jackson admitted Monday to her role in the March 2016 death of Iolan Shawn Cook.
As part of a plea deal, Jackson, 51, Iola, pleaded no contest to one count of involuntary manslaughter and one count of using a cell phone to conduct a felony drug transaction.
The agreement marks the latest development following Cook’s murder. Jackson was one of five suspects originally charged with first-degree murder.
Three of the others, Amber Boeken, James Myers and Jessica Epting, have reached plea deals involving lesser charges.
That leaves Joshua Knapp still facing a first-degree murder charge. His jury trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 29.
District Judge Daniel Creitz scheduled Jackson’s sentencing for Feb. 15, with the caveat it could be delayed if Knapp’s trial has not been completed by then. Boeken and Myers also still have to be sentenced for their convictions: second-degree murder for Boeken; obstruction of justice for Myers. Epting previously received a 13-month jail sentence for obstruction of justice. That sentence had been suspended, but Epting later was arrested for attempted murder in a separate case, and is in custody.

COOK’S DEATH on March 13, 2016, sparked a manhunt spanning nearly three weeks before his body was found along the banks of the Neosho River northwest of Iola in Coffey County.
Jackson did not dispute County Attorney Jerry Hathaway’s contention, that her role was not in killing Cook, but rather she aided and abetted Boeken and Knapp in the murder.
Boeken testified previously in a preliminary hearing that she and Knapp had taken Cook in the back of a pickup to a remote part of the county, and that Knapp stabbed Cook, but did not kill him. Then, when they realized the pickup they were driving was low on fuel, they switched vehicles at Jackson’s house, and another person, Brent Cagle, took Boeken, Knapp and Cook to the Neosho River.
Jackson was aware of the situation when Boeken and Knapp arrived at her house, Hathaway said. Jackson also provided directions to Boeken and Knapp, via text messages, to the river.
The drug charge also involves cell phone records, Hathaway said, and revolve around Jackson directing Cook to sell 100 Dilaudid pills, a powerful, prescription-strength pain reliever.
Prosecutors contend the failed drug deal provided the motive for Boeken and Knapp to kill Cook.

HATHAWAY told Judge Creitz he would request Jackson’s sentences be consecutive, rather than concurrent. If Creitz approves, Jackson’s prison sentence would range from about three years to more than 13 years, depending on her criminal history.
As part of the plea deal, Hathaway dropped charges that claimed Jackson distributed the Dilaudid pills and an unrelated shoplifting allegation from Iola Walmart in November 2015.

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