Cook’s attorneys argue to move trial out of Dane County, say jury pool tainted

No decision Thursday on defense motions

A man accused of serial sexual assault was in court Thursday to ask the judge to move his trials out of Dane County and keep a diary in police possession out of the trial.

Alec Cook, 21, is facing 21, charges including felony sexual assault and strangulation, for alleged incidents between September 2014 and October 2016.

Cook was in Dane County court in Madison Thursday afternoon for oral arguments in front of judges John Hyland and Stephen Ehlke regarding two defense motions, police said.

Cook and his attorneys, Christopher Van Wagner and Jessa Nicholson, asked a judge to throw out a notebook found in his apartment as evidence. The book allegedly lists names of women and what he wanted to do to them.

In court Thursday, the detective who searched Cook’s home in October described the way in which the rigid, leather-bound journal was discovered while searching for other items outlined in a consent form, which was reviewed with Cook’s attorneys and signed. The prosecutor argued the discovery of what was written in the journal was in keeping with what outlined in the form. Nicholson said the defense argued that the nature of search didn’t reasonably include search of the dairy.

Cook’s attorneys also argued that the trial should be moved because news coverage of the case in Dane County has tainted any potential jurors, but the prosecutor said that problem is not limited to Dane County, and the story has been widely covered statewide.

Ehlke and Hyland said they wouldn’t have a decision on the motions Thursday and will take the arguments “under advisement.” The judges didn’t give a timeframe for the written decision.