TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A judge ruled that a man who confessed to a string of rapes and murders with his brother in Ohio will be released from prison.
Attorneys for 59-year-old Nathaniel Cook say a plea deal signed nearly two decades ago requires him to be freed after he's finished serving 20 years.
The judge ruled Nathaniel Cook will be classified as a sexual predator and will be required to register with the sheriff wherever he is. Cook will also be under community control for five years, GPS monitoring for 12 months and work release for six months. Cook will also have to go through programs for sex offenders, will not be allowed to use drugs or alcohol and will not be allowed to have any contact with the victims or their families. The judge said any violation of the law will result in Cook returning to prison to serve the rest of his sentence.
Cook will be released Lucas County Jail to the work release program.
The state of Ohio did not oppose the request for Nathaniel to be released, but family members of victims did speak in court.
Nathaniel and his older brother Anthony Cook were behind a murderous crime spree that terrorized this city for years.
Under a plea deal, Anthony and Nathaniel revealed details of their crimes. In exchange for that information, Anthony was sentenced to life behind bars and Nathaniel would be eligible for release after 20 years. Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates says she asked the victims' families to make the decision about taking the deal and she says they all agreed in order to get some answers.
Those 20 years are now up for Nathaniel. His attorneys are working to get him out. However, family and friends of his victims are trying to keep him behind bars.
One of the murders Nathaniel confessed to under the plea agreement was the death of Connie Sue Thompson. Deanna Thompson is Connie Sue's sister-in-law, "It was a little nerve-wracking today. I thought we would get more answers than we did today. However, I am okay with what we got today because he is still in jail. He is not going anywhere right now."
Prosecutor Bates has been part of this story for nearly 40 years,"I made a decision 20 years ago that we would go forward with the plea deal. That is my oath, that is my obligation. I can't renege on that. I can only say I didn't agree to let him out, I only agreed not to oppose it."
The decision about whether Nathaniel will in fact get out of prison is up to Judge Jennings. Cook is due in court Thursday afternoon.