Jury reaches verdict in U.S. 30 road rage incident

Brandon Cook was accused of involuntary manslaughter and battery for the death of Orlando Fernandez.

Posted: Jun 20, 2019 7:00 PM
Updated: Jun 21, 2019 8:54 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - Orlando Fernandez was driving to his son's birthday party August 8th, 2018, but after a road rage incident on U.S. 30, he would never arrive.

On Thursday, Brandon Cook, the man who punched Fernandez in that road raged incident learned his fate.

Both the prosecution and Cook's defense team agreed from the beginning, Cook and Fernandez were stopped on the side of the road, Cook got out of his car and punched Orlando Fernandez several times in the face.

A fit of road rage? Yes, but did that kill Fernandez? That's what the jury had to decide, but if both sides agreed Cook attacked Fernandez, then why did they take 5 hours to decide a verdict?

Fernandez was 60 years old with severe heart disease. Which according to the defense, made things less clear.

"It was a tough one for everybody," said Bart Arnold, the Defense Attorney for Cook.

Arnold argued Fernandez was emotional and angry behind the wheel, break-checking Cook. He says that stress contributed to his death.

Cook wrote on Facebook and in texts that he "just beat the hell out of a guy" and "guy got what he deserved."

The whole argument, hinged on was it the beating that caused his death or something else?

The jury decided Thursday that Cook was not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but guilty of battery. A verdict pleasing to the defense, but they know it was still a tough day.

Arnold said "We're relieved at this point and we would like to express our sympathies for the Fernandez family. They've been through a lot and we're sorry for that."

Cook will soon be a free man, Arnold said, "I am anxious for Brandon to go on with his life and I'm happy for him, for the verdict today. We still have more to do on Tuesday."

The battery charge carries a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail, Cook will be sentenced on Tuesday, June 25th.

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