CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In our system of justice it’s supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. But 52-year-old Randy Cook knows from experience that the public doesn’t look at it that way.
“Slowly, slowly you know people are starting to see who I really am. I’m not a murderer,” said Cook.
On May 12, 2010 Cook was arrested for killing Leonard Heard. The 55-year-old man was stabbed to death on Monroe Road.
Cook says he was attacked by two men in a robbery attempt and he stabbed Heard in self defense.
“I just had to pray and ask God to forgive me that happened. I wasn’t trying to kill him. I just wanted him to leave me alone,” said Cook.
On November 8, 2012 a Mecklenburg County Jury agreed. The panel, which had the option of first or second degree murder or voluntary manslaughter, found Cook not guilty.
“To hear them say not guilty, immediately knew I got my life back and God had gave me another chance,” said Cook.
Now if you want to find Cook, a good place to look is South Tryon Community Church. "You fall down you get back up so this is where I come to get my salvation. We have a great pastor and congregation."
Cook is now trying to get his life back, made difficult because the case received national attention. It was profiled on A&E’S The First 48.
The cable technician is looking for work and trying to repair relationships that were frayed when he was charged.
“It’s been a terrible ordeal," Cook said. "My immediate family started to dislike me, a lot of distrust.”
But now things are improving. The group of people who never doubted him was his church family. Cook started attending South Tryon Community Church two years prior to his arrest.
Even though he has a lot to look forward to, Cook says he will never forget the day he turned himself in to the police.
“I watched the news that morning and learned that he had died. I was like 'Oh my God, this is not real', I was like I actually killed somebody. I was in disbelief,” said Cook.