The Austin American Statesman has a long article in today’s paper on Kerry Cook, who spent 22 years on Texas death row for a crime he did not commit. The article was written now because Kerry’s book “Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn’t Commit” will be in bookstores on Feb 27. You can listen to Kerry talk about his story on an audio recording on the Statesman site.
Kerry also has a new website.
Kerry’s is a story that needs to be heard in Texas, especially now that the Legislature is in session and will soon be considering whether to pass legislation establishing a moratorium on executions.
According to the article, in 1996, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Cook’s conviction in blunt terms: “Prosecutorial and police misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset. Little confidence can be placed in the outcome of the appellant’s first two trials as a result.”
The question the Legislature must deal with is whether there are other innocent people still on Texas death row. We know that Ernest Willis was released from Texas death row in 2004 after spending 17 years there for a crime he did not commit. The Chicago Tribune says that Texas has executed two people, Carlos De Luna and Cameron Todd Willingham, who were innocent. Sam Milsap, the Bexar County DA who convicted Ruben Cantu, now believes that Cantu was innocent of the crime for which he was executed.
How many innocent lives is Texas allowed to say “oops, we did it again” about before the people of Texas demand a stop to an execution system that does not protect innocent people from being sentenced to death and even executed.
There will be a “Day of Innocence” rally and Death Penalty Issues Lobby Day at the Texas capitol on Tuesday, March 13, 2007.