‘I’ll call you killer,’ victim’s daughter tells murderer after Texas death penalty verdict

Patricia Cooke, the daughter of Robin Waddell, was in a North Texas courtroom every day for the trial of her mother’s killer.

Cooke took the witness stand Thursday evening to deliver a victim impact statement after Johnson County jurors voted to impose a death sentence on Jerry Elders. She told Elders she wouldn’t call him by his name. He didn’t deserve to be called by a name, she said.

Cooke shifted in the stand, moving the chair and the microphone to make sure she could see Elders clearly.

“I’ll call you ‘killer,’ “ she told him. “Mother killer. Grandmother killer.”

Elders was found guilty of capital murder last week. He shot a Burleson police officer during a 2021 traffic stop then fled, abducted Robin Waddell in her truck, shot her and threw her out of the truck in the back lot of the Joshua Police Department, authorities have said. Waddell died from her wounds. The officer, Joshua Lott, was shot three times but survived.

Cooke said that the defense claims that Elders was a “bungler” weren’t true. He knew what he was doing and was intentional about every move, she said.

“You weren’t awfully clumsy,” Cooke said to him from the witness stand. “You fired five shots and five shots hit their target.”

She said she’s heard some people calling him “sweet Jer bear,” which she said was disgusting. It didn’t matter if he walked his partner’s children to the school bus or was loved by family members. He is the reason her daughters asked for chains on the doors and windows in their house. The reason she can’t think of her childhood anymore.

The basketball hoop where she used to play is now in her mind the place where he pointed a gun at her mother and forced her into the truck. The place the truck sat is now where he lay in wait. The memories of going to shoot targets with her father are tainted by the knowledge that her mother was shot to death.

And it’s made worse by the fact that the gun she and her father shot was a .38 Special, the same type Elders used in the killing.

She said she can’t even go to Joshua for a plate of nachos anymore.

“She was killed like an animal on the street, crawling up to a locked door,” Cooke told Elders. “At some point you will be sent back to hell where you belong. ... The law you so hate gave you a far better shot than you gave my mother.”

Robin Waddell’s daughter-in-law, Lori Waddell, told Elders that he took Robin not just from her children, but from her grandchildren.

“My daughter asked me to promise her that grandma would be OK and I couldn’t keep that promise,” she said.

Robin’s son, Phil Waddell, kept his statement short.

“The jury spoke for me,” he said.