Convicted killer, Nathaniel Cook, to be released from prison after 20 years

Nathaniel Cook spent 20 years in prison for three murders he took part in 1980 (WNWO).

A convicted killer is now free.

"Frankly, Mr. Cook, I was trying to find a legal basis to prevent your release."

Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Linda Jennings honored a previous plea agreement on Thursday, and allowed 59-year-old Nathaniel Cook to be released from prison.

Family members of victims, and even survivors, were in the court room.

"I was disappointed. He needs to be in prison for the rest of his life," said Sandra Rollins.

In 1980, Sandra Rollins was raped and her boyfriend, Tom Gordon, was murdered by Cook and and his brother Anthony.

She prepared a speech for the court.

"God was there with me, and in the end, he is the one they'll have to answer to. They may have had the ability to take away my innocence, but they will never take away my will to survive or my strengths or passion for life."

Anthony is associated with nine murders from 1973-1981.

Nathaniel admitted to participating in three of them, including the raping and killing of 12-year-old Dawn Backes.

Nathaniel now heads to a work release program, where he'll spend six months.

Other terms of his release include being under community control for five years and GPS monitoring for a year.

He will also have to register as a sexual predator.

A re-entry coordinator knows the community is concerned about Cook's release, but says 95% of prisoners become free at some point.

"They come back to our community, they live next to us, they shop at the Kroger that we all shop in, there's always that concern. But if a person gets the support services that they need to help infatuate that change, I think there's a lot of things that can assist that individual from recidivating," said Criminal Justice Coordinating Council's Tom Luettke.

Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates has been apart of this case for nearly 40 years.

"We can never say or do anything that will unravel the tragedy that those people felt, all of those people. We tried to give them a modicum, a scintilla of justice."

Following his work release program, Cook will move in with one of his two sisters in Toledo.

If he violates his probation in any way, Judge Jennings says he will go straight back to prison.

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