Jury finds man guilty of sex offender registry violations

A Morgan County jury found Christopher Cook, 39, of no known address, guilty of two counts of failure to update his sex offender registry following a Tuesday, March 7 trial in Morgan County Circuit Court.

Judge Debra McLaughlin presided over the one-day trial, which ended in a guilty verdict after a jury deliberation that lasted under an hour. The case was heard by a jury made up of six men and six women.

Prosecuting Attorney Dan James argued the case for the state. John McFarland represented Cook as defense attorney.

Sgt. Scott Nazelrod of the West Virginia State Police testified during the trial about various phone numbers and addresses Cook provided to the West Virginia State Police, which enforces the proper registration of individuals on the West Virginia Sex Offender Registry.

Sgt. Nazelrod reviewed various cell phone numbers and addresses Cook had provided to officers when he interacted with them.

Three females also testified during the trial.

One was a friend of Cook’s, who gave him a place to live for a short time on Martinsburg Road. She told jurors that she took Cook to the State Police barracks in Berkeley Springs to register on the Sex Offender Registry after he was released from jail. She said she urged him to update his phone number with State Police when the phone she paid for him to use was disconnected. After Cook moved out of her house, she said she told him to make sure he changed his address to reflect that he no longer lived at her Martinsburg Road residence.  

Cook’s attorney argued that at least one of the cell phone numbers provided to State Police was only temporarily disconnected while the phone was being repaired at one point. He also questioned Trooper Nazelrod about whether officers verified Cook’s physical address.

Following his conviction, Cook was incarcerated with no bail as he awaits sentencing on April 6.