death penalty news----TEXAS ---- corrected version to circulate
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Feb 12 11:50:21 CST 2005
PLEASE CIRCULATE AND SUBMIT TO YOUR LOCAL PAPERS
An Open Letter to the People of Texas
My name is Kerry Cook. Since January 25th, 2005, when Court T.V. first
premiered its original television movie, "The Exonerated," that features
my story, much has been said in the State and national media seeking to
undermine my lack of a judicial exoneration in the brutal 1977 rape and
murder of Tyler secretary Linda Jo Edwards.
I want to take this opportunity to address some of the more glaring
inaccuracies being disseminated about my 22-year long legal battle with
the Tyler District Attorney's Office that resulted in two Capital Murder
convictions and death sentences - my initial 1978 conviction by appointed
District Attorney A.D. Clark III, and then by his first cousin, elected
District Attorney, Mr. Jack Skeen (their mothers are sisters), in 1994.
The legal facts succinctly illustrate that without prosecutorial
malfeasance I could not have been arrested, indicted or found guilty and
convicted of this crime to begin with. Former Smith County 241st Judicial
State District Judge Joe Tunnels, in making factual determinations, found
the lying, cheating/distortions of evidence and subornation of perjury by
A.D. Clark III and his Administration so pervasive before the 1977 Grand
Jury that indicted me that a True Bill could not have been returned
Former prosecutors continue, especially since the Court T.V. movie aired,
to mislead an unaware public into believing that this horrendous
documented prosecutorial misconduct associated with my case was decades
old and did not involve the Administration of Mr. Jack Skeen and Chief
Felon Assistant District Attorney David Dobbs. Court documents dispute
Some of the historical language used by the ultra-conservative Texas Court
of Criminal Appeals on November 6th, 1996 in reversing my second
conviction obtained in 1994 reads as follows:
(The District Attorney's Office) "has allowed itself to gain a conviction
based on fraud and ignored its own duty to seek the truth.prosecutorial
and police misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset.
Little confidence can be placed in the outcome of Kerry Max Cook's first
two trials as a result"
This court also found that, "the illicit manipulation of the evidence on
the part of the State permeated the entire investigation of the murder"
and that there were "numerous undisputed acts of misconduct" by the
prosecutor's office. "This misconduct does not consist of an isolated
incident or the doing of a police officer, but consists of deliberate
misconduct by members of the bar."
The High Court was referring not just to the original 1978 trial and
conviction, but the new 1994 conviction and death sentence obtained before
a Williamson County, Georgetown jury by Mr. David Dobbs and Mr. Jack
This misconduct included, but was not limited to, Mr. Jack Skeen hiding
exculpatory evidence that was Sgt. Doug Collard's secret admission before
a finger-print licensing board he deliberately committed perjury when he
aged the fingerprints found on the victim's sliding patio door to coincide
with the time of the murder thereby making them the murderer's prints and
specifically excluding any notion that they could be casual prints left
days earlier. Sgt. Doug Collard stated he did in fact commit perjury, but
he did so only at the behest of the District Attorney, Mr. A.D. Clark III.
Mr. Skeen kept this document hidden from attorneys fighting for my life on
the eve of my execution date, all the while arguing in legal Briefs before
the United States Supreme Court that my fingerprints were six to twelve
hours old, an expert said, placing me at the scene of the murder.
My "No Contest" plea to finally gain my freedom was based on my profound
distrust of Mr. Skeen's Administration to do the right thing and not
engage in more misconduct to gain a third wrongful conviction; that
they would once again lie, cheat and distort and/or hide the truth of my
innocence from a jury.
They haven't sought the truth before juries and they certainly haven't
before the general public where there aren't any rules for disseminating
The legal record reflects that I maintained at all times, just as I have
since 1977, that I am innocent, hence the unprecedented Texas no-contest
plea as opposed to a guilty plea. Records reveal I absolutely refused the
initial plea-bargain offer by the State to plead guilty to a reduced
charge of murder in exchange for time served and walk out a free man. I
told the prosecutors I would go back to death row and be executed before I
would plead guilty to a crime I had nothing to do with. The legal record
further reflects that I re-wrote the State's Stipulation of Evidence for
my plea to protect the integrity of my innocence. After having suffered
the brutal murder of my only brother, the loss of my father to cancer and
my mother to the bitterness of it all -- having been systematically raped
by the justice and prison system --I had nothing more to live for, but
everything to die for.
Media records reflect that when the DNA was first found in February of
1999, it was perceived as a panacea for what ailed the District Attorney's
case - the lack of any credible proof that I was responsible for the
brutal rape and murder of Linda Jo Edwards.
When the Crime Lab's results finally came back two months after my
No-Contest plea and the semen belonged to none other than James Mayfield -
the original suspect as the victim's married ex-lover -- the District
Attorney's office simply removed the egg from their face and threw it my
way, hoping it would stick and that the public wouldn't remember that
through two retrials they sponsored the testimony of James Mayfield that
he was like a father figure to Ms. Edwards and therefore had absolutely no
motive in this rape and murder.
The rhetoric adopted by Smith County prosecutors after the DNA findings -
that there is no way to determine when the semen was left on the underwear
- is a poorly disguised attempt to cloud the validity of the DNA findings.
Since 1978, James Mayfield, the prosecutions own witness, repeatedly
stated under oath that the last time he had sex with Ms. Edwards was three
weeks before her murder. This was the basis for the police and
prosecution to exclude Mayfield as a possible suspect, because the crime
was profiled by their own expert as a sexual assault.
If the DNA results could prove me guilty, why can it not shout my
I am just as innocent as the 117 freed from America's death row since the
United States Supreme Court reinstated use of the death penalty in this
Country in 1976. The only difference between myself and them is that Smith
County prosecutors didn't have the courage nor the integrity to judicially
In the end, DNA evidence scientifically did.
The simple truth is, it is far too costly to allow a constituency to
believe that the real murderer escaped justice and an innocent man was
railroaded and nearly executed to preserve the integrity of the District
Attorney's Office. It is much safer to promulgate the "he's convicted"
mantra and have it appear as a case closed, justice- was- served routine
than allow any other belief to survive.
Email" chasingjustice77 at aol.com
Tel. # (845)336.0087
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