RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina doctor voluntarily surrendered his medical license and resigned from his job Tuesday as he faced a more serious charge of second-degree murder in the death of a 20-year-old ballerina.
The North Carolina Medical Board, which licenses all doctors in the state, posted the surrender letter on its Web site from Dr. Raymond Cook.
"I agree to return my license and registration certificates to the Board as promptly as possible," Cook wrote in the letter.
He also resigned from his faculty position at UNC School of Medicine and his employment with WakeMed Facial Plastic Surgery.
Tuesday afternoon, Cook, who had been a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, turned himself in on new charges of second-degree murder after allegedly driving drunk Friday night and causing a wreck that left a Triangle ballerina dead.
Cook, a Raleigh resident, previously faced charges of felony death by vehicle and driving while impaired.
Cook, who was wearing a dark blue golf shirt and khaki-colored pants as he turned himself in before a Wake County magistrate, was given a bond of $2 million and booked into a holding cell.
Two hours later, Cook, who was wearing an orange and white jail jumpsuit, appeared before District Court Judge Jane Gray, who lowered his bond to $250,000. She also ordered him to surrender his passport.
Gray decreased the bond after Cook's attorney, Roger Smith Jr., said guidelines call for a bond of $200,000 to $500,000 associated with second-degree murder charges.
Smith also said his client is not a flight risk. Cook has lifelong ties to the community and the support of his family, Smith said. Both Cook's parents and his in-laws were in the courtroom today.
"All of his behavior in the case, indicates someone who is going to come back and answer these charges," Smith told Gray.
Wake assistant district attorney Jeff Cruden agreed with Smith that the bond should be lowered, saying there is nothing that calls for a bond outside of the guidelines, "although it may appear to the public that we're being soft."
But Cruden pointed out that the parents of Elena Bright Shapiro, who was killed in the wreck, could not be in court today because they were burying their daughter.
Before she lowered the bond, Gray told Cook, "it would be foolish for you in any way not to be in court because the bond you are currently under might be imposed."
Cook agreed to enter a physician's substance abuse treatment program on Friday. He will do whatever they recommend, his attorney said.
Cook did not speak, but issued a statement, saying: "Today, in Winston-Salem, Elena Bright Shapiro is laid to rest. My wife, parents and family join me in expressing our most profound sympathy to Ms. Shapiro's family. Yet, we understand that words can never take away the pain of her loss.
"...Time might heal some things, but it will never take away this hurt and this loss," his statement continued.
Police say at 8:35 p.m. Cook's car, traveling about 85 miles per hour in a 45 zone, struck a car driven by Shapiro, 20, a Winston-Salem native who was a trainee with Carolina Ballet in Raleigh.
Court documents describe Cook as having "bloodshot" and "glassy" eyes, smelling of alcohol, swaying and having slurred speech shortly after the incident. The results of a blood alcohol test were not available Monday.
Cook, a 1997 graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill medical school, was licensed by the N.C. Medical Board in 1999.
In 2003, he took a job with WakeMed. For an annual salary of $288,577, he had the title of assistant professor in UNC-CH's department of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery.
This was not the first time Cook was accused of drunken driving.
In 1989, according to court records, Cook was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Camden County, Ga. He pleaded no contest to the charge, which means he pleaded guilty but did not admit guilt.
In 1988, he was accused of driving while impaired in Forsyth County, Ga., but the prosecution of that charge was abandoned when no probable cause for the charge was found.