For Immediate Release
Date: December 7, 2017
Re: Lifer Inmate Michael Cook Denied Parole
Sonora, California – Tuolumne County District Attorney Laura Krieg announced today that on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 convicted murder Michael Allen Cook, 60, formerly of La Grange, was denied a grant of parole at his first parole suitability hearing. In 2004, Cook pled guilty to second degree murder in the August 2003 murder of Mary Bisbing, who was then Cook’s girlfriend. Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Jenecke personally appeared with Bisbing’s family at the hearing and vehemently opposed Cook’s release.
On August 16, 2003, Cook stabbed Bisbing once in the back during a verbal argument in their kitchen. Cook retrieved a second knife and chased a running Bisbing into their living room where she tripped. Cook then got on top of Bisbing and brutally stabbed her three more times in the chest. After she died, Cook moved her into their bedroom, and covered her with clothing, carpet, and an ironing board. Leaving her there, Cook stole Bisbing’s credit cards and vehicle and drove to Fresno where he began to hitch-hike across country to Illinois where his ex-wife lived. Based on his ex-wife’s tip, Cook was apprehended in Metropolis, Illinois, and transported back to California by Tuolumne County Sheriff’s investigators. The case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney James Newkirk and investigated by Tuolumne County Sheriff’s then-Investigator Neil Lillie.
Unfortunately, this was not Cook’s first act of violence against Bisbing, or against other women with whom he had a romantic relationship. During their two year long relationship, there were numerous other instances where law enforcement was called to Bisbing’s residence for incidents of domestic violence by Cook on Bisbing. Indeed, Cook had been released from the Tuolumne County Jail a mere twelve days before the murder, after he pled guilty to a felony violation of Penal Code section 591 [cutting a telephone utility line] from a domestic violence incident between him and Bisbing. Moreover, Cook had previously sustained two criminal convictions in 1995 and 1998 for domestic violence against his only other two long-term intimate partners.
Board of Parole Hearings Commissioner Turner and Deputy Commissioner Russo presided over Cook’s five-hour hearing. Prior to the hearing, Cook had been assessed by Forensic Psychologist Benjamin Levin of the Board of Parole Hearings as having a low risk of violent recidivism. Moreover, Cook appeared to have had extensive rehabilitative programming to address the issues leading to his murder of Bisbing.
However, the hearing revealed that Cook lacked any understanding of why he killed Bisbing. When asked several time why he murdered Bisbing in such a “vicious” way, Cook consistently responded, “I have no idea why it happened.” Moreover, as noted by Commissioner Turner, Cook was not totally forthcoming and displayed “extreme minimization” regarding his prior history of domestic violence with Bisbing and his other partners. Lastly, of great concern for the Board and for the District Attorney’s Office, Cook had become engaged to a women he met while she was teaching his Alternatives to Violence Program at Ironwood State Prison.
The commissioners from the Board of Parole deliberated for approximately 25 minutes and ultimately found that Cook represented an unreasonable risk to public safety based on his continued risk to society. The commissioners denied Cook another parole hearing for an additional three years.
For More Information Contact:
Cassandra Jenecke, Deputy District Attorney
Phone: (209) 588-5450