Sunday, March 27, 2005

Letter from an innocent man

As millions of Christians today contemplate Christ's victory over death on this fine Easter morning, Kerry Max Cook can celebrate, in a way, his own resurrection and life - after DNA evidence exonerated him regarding a 1978 rape conviction, this marks his first Easter sunday as a free man in almost three decades. The Jacksonville Progress this morning published a letter to the editor from Cook, who was convicted in the courthouse in my home town of Tyler, Smith county, in East Texas. (Not a conflict alert so much as a small-world oddity; the DA he references, Jack Skeen, is the ex-husband of my 8th grade English teacher.) Cook's case was highlighted on Court TV in January. Here's the text of his LTE:

More evidence of innocence?

Since Court TV premiered "The Exonerated," featuring my story, much has been said seeking to undermine my lack of a judicial exoneration in the 1977 rape and murder of Linda Jo Edwards.

In the high court's ruling reversing my second conviction, they stated the Smith County DA's office engaged in fraud and misconduct to secure my 1978 and 1994 convictions. (Cook vs. State, 940 S.W.2d 623, Tex. Crim. App. 1996)

This misconduct included (Jack) Skeen hiding evidence that Sgt. Collard committed perjury by aging fingerprints found on the victim's patio door to coincide with the time of the murder. Skeen kept this document hidden from my attorney on the eve of an execution date.

The only public accountability Skeen and his chief felony prosecutor, David Dobbs, ever had was in a June 11, 2000, Houston Chronicle article, "Justice Under Fire." Skeen and Dobbs filed a defamation suit claiming the article was false and malicious. Recently, the Texas Supreme Court dismissed their suit by a vote of 9-0. The court uses one of the instances of misconduct in my case to support their findings - "A Court of Criminal Appeals opinion stating an assistant D.A. (Dobbs) attempted to interview a defendant without his attorney's knowledge." Dobbs is mentioned again, "Ša [sic] deposition in the Smith case of chief prosecutor Dobbs, in which he admitted confronting the plaintiff of the malicious prosecution case in a bar and asking 'how much money would it take to make it go away.'"

My "no contest" plea was based on my profound distrust of Skeen's administration.

In the end, it was not a jury, but rather DNA evidence that scientifically exonerated me.

The truth is, it is too costly to allow a constituency to believe the real murderer escaped justice. It is much safer to promulgate the "he's convicted" mantra and have it appear as a case closed.

Kerry Max Cook,

1 comment:

The Stark Raving Viking said...

I used to think that Judicial misconduct and perjury of police was a Connecticut staple.

I see that the whole country has a massive infection.

Try putting "Steven G. Erickson" in a yahoo search engine and you can see how far into the depths are country has sunk in sewage.

Steven G. Erickson aka Vikingas