FAIRFAX ? A young man who fatally shot his adoptive parents inside their suburban home was sentenced to 40 years in prison Wednesday.
Relatives and friends were teary eyed as Joshua P. Cooke, 20, learned his fate in Fairfax County Circuit Court. In June, Cooke pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder for the Feb. 17 shootings in the family?s Oakton home.
?I?ve asked the Lord to forgive and I accept the consequence of my actions. I wish I could turn back time,? Cooke told the court before sentencing. ?Every day I see that Monday night and I feel terrible about what happened to my parents.?
Cooke was sentenced to 32 years for each of the two murder counts. That time will be served concurrently. He also got another eight years on weapons charges.
Cooke was 19 when bought a shotgun at a sporting goods store Feb. 15. Two days later, he executed his father, Paul Cooke, who was on the phone with his teenage daughter when he was shot. The young woman listened helplessly from Pennsylvania as she heard her mother, Margaret Ruffin Cooke, say, ?Josh, you wouldn?t.? That was followed by popping sounds. Joshua Cooke later hung up on his sister as she pleaded to talk with her parents.
The case gathered considerable attention when defense lawyers filed a motion claiming Cooke believed he was living in the virtual reality of the science fiction film ?The Matrix.? Cooke later entered a guilty plea.
At Wednesday?s hearing, his lawyer brought up violent films and video games.
Rachel Fierro told the court her client frequently watched ?The Matrix? and played the video game ?Grand Theft Auto 3? ? sometimes up to six hours at a time. Fierro said she was not trying to prove that violent movies and games alone caused Cooke to murder his parents, but wanted to show they were factors in his aggression.
University of Michigan professor Brad Bushman testified that studies show violent films strongly increase aggression in college-age students. Bushman cited ?Karate Kid 3? as an example.