Kerry Cook is an innocent man who wrongly served two decades in Texas's notorious death house for the brutal 1977 rape and murder of 21-year-old Linda Jo Edwards. His struggle for freedom is said to be one of the worst cases of police and prosecutorial misconduct in American history.
In the summer of 1977, Cook was staying in Tyler, TX. He met an attractive young woman named Linda Edwards and was invited back to her apartment for a drink and left his fingerprints on the sliding glass door. Four days later, Ms. Edwards was found brutally murdered. When the police dusted for prints, they found Cook's and immediately arrested him. Edward Jackson testified that Cook confessed to the murder during a jailhouse conversation. Jackson was set free, only to kill again several years later. Cook, on the other hand, was convicted and sentenced to death.
He was thrown into a world for which no one could be prepared, and he survived beatings, sexual abuse, and depression; all the while, he fought against a justice system that was determined to keep him quiet and loath to admit a mistake. Through the work of a crusading group of lawyers who forced a series of retrials, his case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ordered the case be reconsidered. It wasn't until the spring of 1999 that Cook was finally able to put the nightmare behind him: long-suppressed DNA evidence had linked James Mayfield, Linda Edwards's ex-lover, to the crime.
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Kerry Max Cook was born in Stuttgart, Germany, and spent much of his youth on army bases in Europe. In 1972, he and his family returned to the United States to live in Texas. Since gaining his freedom, Cook has been an outspoken advocate for legal reform. He has made numerous national and international media appearances and has lectured at Princeton, Yale, and the University of Chicago. His story was incorporated into the acclaimed play The Exonerated, of which he is often a cast member. He was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship to write Chasing Justice.From Publishers Weekly:
Despite some amateurish prose, this depressing account of an unfair criminal justice system that almost claimed the author's life deserves a wide readership alongside John Grisham's The Innocent Man. After being arrested in 1977 for a brutal mutilation murder in Tyler, Tex., that he did not commit, Cook, then 21 years old, was repeatedly railroaded by corrupt police officers, prosecutors and judges bent on ignoring all the rules to get him convicted. After his first trial, Cook ended up on death row and underwent a hellish ordeal behind bars; two subsequent trials ended in a mistrial and another conviction and death sentence. The subtitle notwithstanding, Cook's eventual freedom was largely due to a team of dedicated attorneys, working from the Capital Punishment Project or pro bono, who fought tooth-and-nail to obtain his freedom in the late 1990s. Readers familiar with similar travesties, such as the Randall Dale Adams case chronicled in Errol Morris's documentary The Thin Blue Line, will be outraged anew, especially at the authorities' deliberate disregard of another suspect, linked to the crime by an eyewitness and DNA evidence. (Feb. 27)
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