"Ex-death row prisoner still trying to clear name," is by Patrick Beach in the Austin American-Statesman.
A decade before Michael Morton, there was Kerry Max Cook.
Cook was sentenced to death in the 1977 rape and murder of Linda Jo Edwards, 21, in Tyler. He survived assaults and suicide attempts on Death Row, multiple retrials and was at one point 11 days from execution. In 1999, heading into a fourth trial, technicians found DNA evidence on Edwards’ underwear belonging to another man, not Cook. A no-contest plea was negotiated. Cook was free. Sort of. Free but still a convicted felon.
We first brought you Cook’s story in 2007, when he published “Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn’t Commit.” He was already something of a celebrity. His story was one of those dramatized in “The Exonerated.” He appeared on “Nightline,” “The Today Show” and “Frontline.” He’s posed for photos with Tom Hanks and many other celebrities.
And still he’s not free. Now 57 and living in Asheville, N.C. (in part to escape the “long arm of influence” of Smith County officials), Cook teaches perseverance to teenagers and adults at leadership camps around the world. He’s recently returned from one such camp in Dublin, Ireland.
Cook — who lives with his wife, Sandra Pressley and son, Kerry Justice Cook, who turns 13 Monday — said his lawyers will soon file a petition for actual innocence in Smith County. The case may then be referred to the Court of Criminal Appeals. He hopes, at long last, to clear his name. The process has been slow because he relies heavily on lawyers working pro bono, and those lawyers are more likely to have their sights on inmates who are still incarcerated.