MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A domestic assault trial for Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook will turn on whether jurors believe his version of events or his girlfriend’s.
Several details were released regarding the night in question from last October, during the opening statements Wednesday.
Before the incident, his attorneys said Cook planned a special weekend for his girlfriend, Chantel Baker, who flew in for the weekend from Virginia. He sent her to the Mall of America in a limo, took her to a nice restaurant, had a few shots and then took her to a local strip club.
While at the club, Cook allegedly bought lap dances for everyone who was with him, including Baker. Sometime after that, Baker became upset with Cook.
The couple returned to Cook’s home, where the fighting continued, according to his lawyers.
Prosecutor Sarah Elizabeth Hilleren said Cook choked Baker and hit her so hard she flew into a wall. Hilleren said Cook was jealous because Baker had been talking to an ex-boyfriend.
Defense attorney David Valentini said Cook never choked Baker and was simply trying to ward off her drunken attack when he reflexively hit her in the side of the head. Baker suffered a perforated eardrum.
Valentini said Baker actually attacked Cook, punching him and even pulling his hair out. Cook only acted in self-defense, he said.
A neighbor who lives near Cook and had called police on the night of the alleged attack said she was frightened for the woman, could hear her screaming and loud banging. She said she heard a man’s voice repeatedly yelling, “Why were you talking to him?”
Cook is charged with domestic assault by strangulation and third-degree assault — both felonies — in the October incident. The Vikings held him out most of last season pending his trial.
The prosecution said Baker is expected to take the stand.
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