Vincent Cooks is scheduled to become the 256th person executed since 1976 in Texas on Dec. 12. Convicted of the robbery/murder of Dallas Police Officer Gary McCarthy in 1988, Cooks’ appeals have focused on scanty eyewitness testimony.

Cooks has argued on appeal that only one out of ten eyewitnesses to the murder were able to identify him from a lineup, with a number of other witnesses identifying people other than Cooks. Eyewitness accounts have also given inconsistent judgements of the height and weight of the murderer. Some claimed he weighed approximately 220 pounds and was around 5′ 10. Cooks weighed 318 pounds at the time of his arrest and is 6′ 0. These facts were presented at trial and federal courts have sided with the jury. It is worth remembering that the eyewitness testimony of one person was enough to put Anthony Porter within days of an Illinois execution chamber- testimony that was later shown to be false. Porter has since been fully exonerated of the crime.

Cooks has also suggested that the jury was unfairly motivated to see him as a violent and dangerous man. As evidence, he has questioned why his legs were shackled during trial. Previous courts have ruled that shackling a defendant in the court seriously damages the presumption of innocence all defendants are entitled to. Far from embracing this claim, federal courts have accepted the prosecutor’s rationale that it was not intended that the jury actually see the shackles. Moreover, at trial prosecutors misconstrued Cooks’ school record, claiming that he had to be removed from class so the rest of the school could function. In fact, Cooks was merely placed in a disciplinary setting for his truancy problem.

The strategy of the prosecution to paint Vincent Cooks as an aggressive and violent person has worked to Cooks’ disadvantage. Federal courts repeatedly have denied Cooks’ contention that the jury was improperly prejudiced. Please write and call to let Gov. Perry know that convictions require evidence, not innuendo.

Please Contact

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
PO Box 12428
Austin, TX 78711-2418
phone: (512) 463 1782
fax: (512) 463 1849

Board of Pardons and Paroles
Attn: Gerald Garret
Executive Clemency Section
PO Box 13401, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
phone: (512) 406 5852
fax: (512) 467 0945

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The Austin American-Statesman
P.O. Box 670
Austin, TX 78767
phone: (512) 445-3667
fax: (512) 445-3679

Dallas Morning News
2726 S. Beckley
Dallas, TX 75224
phone: (214) 977-8462
fax: (214) 977-8019

Houston Chronicle
P.O. Box 4260
Houston, TX 77210
phone: (713) 220-7491
fax: (713) 220-6806

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