Longtime local prosecutor dies
John Webb Cox, an El Dorado County deputy district attorney for the last 14 years, died Friday evening at his home from a massive heart attack. He was 51.
Flags at the El Dorado County court complex flew at half-mast Monday in remembrance of the well-respected and much-loved prosecutor, who was known by his colleagues for his quiet, understated manner in the courtroom, his sense of humor and fondness for a good “bad” joke.
Judge Suzanne Kingsbury took a few moments to remember Cox before starting the criminal calender Monday.
“As all of you, I’m sure already know, we are very sad to have experienced the passing of our friend and colleague John Cox. John was someone who was intelligent, thoughtful and provocative. He was also full of humor and reverence and I think that the lives of everybody here in this room were made a better place because of John having been in it,” she said.
Kingsbury said later that Cox helped ease the stress of a sometimes stressful profession.
“Nobody in the world can take his place. He made us crazy and we loved him for it,” Kingsbury said of her former fellow law student and friend of more than 20 years.
Cox was born in Duncan, Okla., in 1946. He attended school in Baton Rouge, La., and finished high school in Coco Beach, Fla., where his father was working for the Apollo space program. During the Vietnam War Cox was stationed in Texas. He served as a staff sergeant in the finance department of the U.S. Air Force. He would later tell friends that he was tasked with the job of keeping Abilene, Texas free of communists.
After being discharged from the service Mr. Cox earned his law degree at McGeorge School of Law by working full-time during the day and studying law at night. He graduated in the top third of his class. Before coming to El Dorado County he worked in the Kern County District Attorney’s office and as a public defender in Sacramento.
“John was a journeyman prosecutor,” said Assistant District Attorney Sean O’Brien. “He had a lot of experience and was able to prosecute any case.”
“He was very fair,” said Judge Terrence Finney. “He never pushed a case further than it should be pushed. He never forgot that we were dealing with people – human beings,” Finney said.
Cox was preceded in death by his father, Rollin Webb Cox. He is survived by his mother, Grace Cox; his former wife, Bonnie Cox, and their two sons, John Aaron Cox and Daniel Webb Cox; his longtime companion and fiancee, Lesley Overfield, and her son, Nicholas Allen Overfield; a brother, Roy Jarnes Cox of Canada; a sister, Rolline Cox Alaynick of Carlsbad; his former brother-in-law, Dr. Randy Watson; two nephews, Dr. Joseph Watson and Dr. David Watson; and two nieces, Jenny Cox and Mary Melissa Watson.
A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 3 p.m. in Department 3 of the El Dorado County Courthouse. An open viewing is planned for Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. at McFarlane Mortuary. The funeral will be at 1 p.m. Friday at the Lake Tahoe Community Presbyterian Church with a police honor guard.
A trust fund has been established at El Dorado Savings Bank for Cox’s sons.
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