Murder suspect faces judge after car jacking victim dies

By: Brittany Pelletz Email
By: Brittany Pelletz Email


Joel Searcy, 31, faced a judge Wednesday, a day after being charged with the murder of 82-year-old, Donald "Leroy" Cooke.

Searcy entered into a not guilty plea today in Fayette County District Court. There is no bond set for Searcy.

Cooke's family is shocked about what police say happened to him but also relieved that Searcy is charged with murder.

"It's not just my stepfather that was affected. It was this other woman and the children were traumatized obviously. He sounds like a very evil person. I don't think he deserves any mercy," says Judy Robinett, Cooke's stepdaughter.

On August 1st, Lexington police say that Searcy got into an accident after kidnapping a woman he knows with her four children inside of her car. Police were called out to the accident scene near the intersection of Sixth and Headley Avenue.

Police say Searcy later found Leroy Cooke and got inside of his truck. Police say Searcy forced Cooke to drive to the PDQ Market before assaulting him in an effort to steal the vehicle. Police were called to the disturbance at New Circle and Meadow Lane.

"We're just assuming that when he threw him out of the car, that he must have hit a parking bar or something to have fractured so many ribs and there was, one covered his lung. His whole left side was bruised from what I understand," adds Robinett.

Robinett lives in Missouri and says her stepfather was a hardworking man with several hobbies, "He was a very outgoing person. He liked to go to old car auctions and work on old cars. He liked going to the race track for horse races. He worked as a machinist for years. He had his own machine shop. He was fairly quiet at home."

Judy Robinett lives in Missouri says it's a tough time for the whole family including Janie, his dog. Police say that Janie was with him when Cooke was attacked.

"She went just about everywhere with him. He loved his dog compassionately who I understand was sitting there. She was thrown from the car too," Robinett says.

Robinett says that Janie will eventually be brought to Missouri to live with family there. Robinett also tells WKYT that there will not be a funeral but that Leroy Cooke's final resting place will be in Missouri.

Joel Searcy is expected back in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing for several charges.

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