Cook County prosecutors filed felony charges yesterday against a homeless man who allegedly attacked two women in November and who is accused of attacking at least 12 other people in Chicago’s Loop, the Chicago Tribune reports. Donald Cook, 47, was arrested two days after a Tribune story detailed how the man, who has been diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, had mainly faced misdemeanor charges after random attacks that started in 1990. Cook has denied taking part in the attacks.
The Tribune detailed how Cook County prosecutors had on several occasions dismissed charges against the man after he repeatedly failed to show up in misdemeanor court. Cook skipped nine hearings in which he was charged with battery, causing the cases to be thrown out. Police asked prosecutors to upgrade the charges from the two November attacks to felonies after the Tribune story ran. Mark Heyrman, chairman of public policy for the Mental Health Association of Illinois, said the stiffer charges won’t get Cook the mental health services he needs. To effectively prosecute him, court officials should use a mental health court the county set up last year for people with mental illnesses who are charged with felonies. The court stresses a combination of treatment and intense supervision of mentally ill criminals.