At his September 22 hearing before Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Judge Tomas G. Ross, Mark Joseph Cook, a homeless man, told the judge he never intended to hurt anyone, and the attempted holdup was an act of desperation. Defense attorney Michael Pappafotis said Cook had been homeless for a number of weeks, which put pressure on him leading up to the February 17 robbery of the Family Dollar store in Centreville. Pappafotis asked that Cook get a suspended sentence and supervised probation. Cook, 44, had no prior trouble with the law, said Pappafotis. Queen Anne’s County Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Doud recommended Cook serve time in the state Division of Corrections.
Cook has been held in the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center since his arrest on February 17. Cook told police he waited until the store was almost empty and pointed an open pocket knife at the cash register and told the cashier to open it. The cashier ran. Cook waited in the store until he was apprehended by police officers. No one was injured. Cook was charged with armed robbery, robbery, second-degree assault, theft over $500 and theft under $500. He pled guilty to robbery on August 4.
Ross sentenced Cook to 10 years in prison, but suspended 8 years, with Cook to serve 18 months in the Queen Anne’s County Detention Center. He was given credit for the more than seven months he already served in jail. Cook will be put on five years supervised probation after his release. He was ordered to have no contact with the robbery victim and the Family Dollar store in Centreville. Ross asked Cook what caused his downward spiral. Cook said he worked as a machinist for six years for a Delaware company, but lost his job in October 2008. He said he went to his grandmother’s funeral in Massachusetts, and when he returned home the state of Delaware denied his claim for unemployment compensation. Cook eventually came to Centreville. He said he couldn’t find services to help the homeless.