An East Frankford man has been sentenced to 3½ to seven years in prison for a 2016 accident in which his car crashed into a Northeast Philadelphia bus shelter and killed a man taking cover from the rain.
John Cook, 36, was sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge Sandy L.V. Byrd on Wednesday to the maximum prison term for causing a fatal accident while driving with a suspended license.
Cook, who testified at his March trial that he did not realize he had hit someone and had walked away dazed from the accident scene, apologized to the family of the victim, Alejo Molina, said defense lawyer Robert M. Gamburg.
Cook, who had been free on $25,000 bail, was immediately taken into custody.
Gamburg said he was considering whether to appeal.
Cook also could face a retrial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and vehicular homicide. The jury deadlocked on both counts, and the District Attorney’s Office is considering whether to retry Cook. The jury acquitted Cook of leaving the scene of an accident.
Assistant District Attorney Laurie Moore said no decision had been made about a retrial.
Molina, 50, of Castor Gardens, a married father of two children, was waiting for the Route 58 bus in a shelter on southbound Bustleton Avenue just south of Cottman Avenue at 12:46 a.m. May 24, 2016, when Cook’s black 2003 Lexus E300 sedan plowed into the shelter and killed Molina.
Gamburg argued that Molina’s death was an accident, not criminal conduct, and his theory of the case got some support from police accident investigators, who could not ascribe a cause for the accident, such as excessive speed, rain, or road conditions.
The crash took place where Bustleton bends slightly from a straightaway. Police said the crash destroyed the shelter and threw Molina 118 feet. Cook’s Lexus, its right front tire and wheel torn from the body, went an additional 213 feet south until stopping partly in a northbound lane. When police arrived, no driver was inside or nearby.
At 7:30 a.m. that day, Cook, appearing dazed and bloodied, walked into Police Headquarters and told the front desk officer that “he hit someone” and wanted to surrender, police said.