On this date, July 20, 1987, 16-year-old Kevin Swaney and his friend, Carlos Froyan Cruz-Ramos were murdered by Daniel Wayne Cook in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Justice came 25 years later, when Daniel Cook was put to death by lethal injection in Arizona on August 8, 2012. Let us hear from the loved ones from Kevin Swaney who witnessed the execution.
Summary: Cook, John Matzke, and Carlos Froyan Cruz-Ramos worked at a restaurant in Lake Havasu City and shared an apartment. On July 19, 1987, Cook stole some money from Cruz-Ramos. When Cruz-Ramos began searching the apartment for the money, Cook and Matzke tied Cruz-Ramos to a chair and began beating him with their fists and a metal pipe. Cook also cut Cruz-Ramos with a knife, sodomized him, and burned his genitals with cigarettes. After several hours of this torture, Matzke and Cook crushed Cruz-Ramos' throat with the pipe. When Kevin Swaney, another co-worker, arrived at the apartment, Cook forced him upstairs and showed him Cruz-Ramos' body. Cook and Matzke then tied Swaney to a chair. Matzke went to sleep while Cook sodomized Swaney. When Cook was finished, he woke Matzke and the two men strangled Swaney to death with a bed sheet. Matzke later went to the police, confessed to the murders and implicated Cook. Matzke was allowed to enter a guilty plea and was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment. He was released from prison in July 2007.
After doctors had set up the line to administer the lethal drug, witnesses who had been watching that process on a TV saw the black curtains removed from the room and Cook spoke.
“I’d like to say I’m sorry to the victims,” Cook said. “I know that’s not enough.”
“I’d like to say I’m sorry to the victims,” Cook said. “I know that’s not enough.”
QUOTE 1: “To me, they were hollow,” said Lester, 39, later Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Express in Florence where she and family members were staying. “I do not feel he truly had any remorse.”
“People need to know that it was a rightful execution,” Lester said. “He’s not an innocent man.”
CASE: On July 19, 1987, Daniel Wayne Cook and John Eugene Matzke were living together in a two bedroom apartment in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Carlos Cruz-Ramos, a co-worker at a local restaurant, who recently had moved in with Cook and Matzke, slept on the floor. After Matzke returned from work that afternoon, Cook told Matzke that he knew Ramos had a lot of money and that he wanted to take it. At approximately 6:00 p.m., Cook suggested that Matzke take Ramos upstairs to show him the view from Matzke's bedroom balcony.
After Matzke and Ramos returned downstairs, Ramos discovered his money pouch was missing, and Cook suggested that Ramos look for the pouch upstairs. When Ramos went upstairs, Cook grabbed him, Matzke ripped up some bedsheets, and they tied Ramos to a chair in Cook's bedroom. Cook punched and taunted Ramos before putting Ramos in Cook's closet so that Cook and Matzke could look through Ramos's other possessions. Ramos escaped from the closet, but Cook chased him down, took him back upstairs, and re-tied him to the chair. Cook and Matzke began beating Ramos with a metal pipe and a stick. Cook and Matzke also burned Ramos's chest, stomach, and genitals with cigarettes. Cook cut Ramos's chest with a knife, and Matzke put a bandage on the cut to stop the bleeding.
At around 9:45 p.m., Matzke went to the Acoma Stop and Shop to buy beer. When Matzke returned to the apartment, he saw Cook sodomize Ramos. Cook also used a mini-stapler on Ramos's foreskin, stapling it to the chair. Matzke asked Cook why he was torturing Ramos, and Cook replied, “I'm having fun.” At around 11:00 p.m., Matzke told Cook that they could not let Ramos go, and Cook responded, “Well, you can kill him at midnight; ?the witching hour.” Cook and Matzke continued torturing Ramos until midnight, then Matzke attempted to strangle Ramos with a sheet and the pipe. Matzke eventually placed Ramos on the floor, placed the pipe across Ramos's neck, and stood on the pipe until Ramos's heart stopped beating at around 12:15 a.m. After throwing Ramos's body down the stairs, Cook and Matzke placed the body in Matzke's closet.
At around 2:30 or 3:00 a.m., Kevin Swaney arrived at Cook's apartment. At first, Cook told Swaney to leave but then Cook asked Swaney to come into the apartment. Cook told Swaney that they had some drugs they wanted to get rid of, and pushed a couch in front of the door so nobody would come into the apartment. Then Cook and Matzke told Swaney about the dead body. Cook took Swaney upstairs to show him the body and, when they returned downstairs, Cook told Matzke to get bindings and a gag. Cook forced Swaney to take off his clothes, and Matzke and Cook tied Swaney to a chair. Matzke asked Cook what Cook was planning to do, and Cook said he was going to talk to Swaney. Matzke told Cook that if he was going to torture Swaney, Matzke did not want any part of it. Matzke went to the living room and fell asleep. At around 4:30 or 5:00 a.m., Cook woke Matzke. Swaney was still tied up and crying. Cook told Matzke that he sodomized Swaney so now they had to kill him. Cook took a sheet from around his neck and wrapped it around Swaney's neck. Matzke and Cook each took one end of the sheet and pulled, but Matzke's end kept slipping out of his hand. At that point, Cook said “This one's mine,” put Swaney on the floor, and strangled him. Matzke and Cook took Swaney's body up to Matzke's room and placed the body in the closet. Matzke and Cook went back downstairs and slept.
That afternoon, Matzke went to work for two and a half hours before quitting because he was concerned about what Cook would do if he was not there. When Matzke got home, he and Cook went to a bar and drank for several hours. At 10:30 p.m., they returned to the apartment and met Byron Watkins and other friends by the pool of their apartment complex. Cook and Matzke invited their friends into the apartment. The next morning, Matzke showed Watkins the bodies. Watkins convinced Matzke to go to the police. Matzke and Watkins went to the police department, and Matzke gave a videotaped confession. Officers responded to the apartment and arrested Cook at around 4:50 a.m. After Detective David Eaton gave Cook Miranda warnings, Cook said, “we got to partying; things got out of hand; now two people are dead.” Cook then said that “my roommate killed one and I killed the other.” He admitted to choking Swaney to death. After making those admissions, Cook refused to make any further statements.
Although the lethal drug took longer — about 35 minutes — than what some media witnesses of previous executions said they experienced, it was a far better death than what Swaney and Ramos experienced, Lester said.
QUOTE 2: “It was less painful and they were concerned about his comfort,” Lester said. “I guarantee you that no one (neither Cook nor John Matzke, who admitted to killing Ramos in exchange for testimony against Cook) was concerned about Swaney’s or (Ramos’) condition when they brutally murdered them.”
QUOTE 3: A doctor entered the room at 11:03 a.m. and declared Cook dead.
The execution viewing process — which had been the subject of a federal appeals court ruling — was open whether on the flat screen TV above or through the windows to the room from the time Cook was seen on the padded gurney to the time he was declared dead.
Swaney family members, including Lester, Lynne Pattee (sister) and Shean Stewart (brother) did offer formal comments directly after the execution.
Stewart offered an opinion that some family members clearly do not agree with.
“I felt sorry for him,” Stewart said. He paused for several minutes after making that statement and being asked to elaborate.
“What he did was brutal and wrong,” Stewart said. For a lot of years, I used to hate (Cook). The man I saw laying there on that gurney was scared.”
QUOTE 4: Lester clutched a photo of her brother Kevin at the press conference and later detailed thoughts on how she’s dealt with his murder through the years.
“For me personally, he’s always been with me,” Lester said. “But it doesn’t consume my every moment. It can’t. That doesn’t mean I love him any less.”
As the execution process moved along from searching for the best vein in his arms (left arm chosen) to administering the drug, Cook gulped several times, appeared to cry and his pupils became wide toward the end.