Longtime Wake prosecutor joins field seeking district attorney job

ablythe@newsobserver.comFebruary 3, 2014 

— Jeff Cruden, Wake County senior assistant district attorney, announced this week that he plans to join the field of candidates seeking the job as Wake County District Attorney.

Colon Willoughby, the county's top prosecutor for nearly three decades, surprised his staff the first week of January with the news that he would not seek re-election.

Three others have already announced their candidacies.

Cruden, a Raleigh native and Broughton High School graduate, joined the Wake district attorney's office in 1997.

Since then he has prosecuted hundreds of jury trials, including the case of Samuel J. Cooper, a Wake County man convicted of killing five people, and Raymond Cook, the Wake County doctor convicted of killing an aspiring ballerina in a 2009 collision while driving intoxicated and above the speed limit.

Before coming to Wake County two decades ago, Cruden did a stint in Elizabeth City as a prosecutor. He served in the U.S. Navy for seven years before attending Campbell University law school.

“This position demands someone with proven prosecutorial experience – there is no time for on the job training,” Cruden said in a statement. “I have that experience and will continue to focus on the safety of our community through collaborative efforts with the N.C. Legislature, law enforcement agencies and victims’ rights advocates.”

In addition to Cruden, Jefferson Griffin and Boz Zellinger, both assistant district attorneys in Wake County, have announced their candidacies. Wake County Superior Court clerk Lorrin Freeman also plans to seek the seat.

The filing period for the Nov. 4 election closes Feb. 28.

Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1

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