Governor Rick Perry Won’t Exonerate Innocent Man


In 1978, I was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of a 21-year-old woman. After decades in prison and almost 4 separate trials, I never stopped fighting to prove my innocence. And in 1999, DNA evidence proved what I had said all along: I didn’t commit that crime.

I was finally released from prison, but nearly 15 years later, Texas won’t exonerate me, so I’m still on the books as a murderer. This makes it nearly impossible for me to sign a lease or get a job. Why am I still paying for a crime I didn’t commit?

The only person who can officially pardon me is Governor Rick Perry of Texas, and he takes his cues from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

I started a petition on asking the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend me for a full pardon — will you sign it?

Despite an Appellate ruling throwing out my second conviction with findings that “Police and prosecutorial misconduct has tainted this entire matter from the outset,” I feel that the Smith County District Attorney’s Office was more interested in saving face than serving justice.

On the eve of my fourth trial, prosecutors offered a plea-bargain: plead no-contest with no admission of guilt, and go free. I had been offered plea-bargains before and turned them down because of my innocence. But by this point, I was facing the possibility of another death sentence and my whole life came apart — my only brother had been murdered, my Dad had died of cancer, and my mother abandoned me. I took the offer and walked out of the courtroom.

Two months later, DNA evidence proved my innocence.

But because of that no-contest plea, I need Governor Perry to pardon me in order to be considered an innocent man. My time in prison still haunts me — I have severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from being raped there. I just want to be free of this terrible nightmare, but as long as I am on the books as a murderer, part of me feels like I will always be in jail.

The Texas legal system ignored and abused me for decades. But they won’t be able to ignore me any longer if thousands of you stand beside me.

I spent 22 years on death row for a murder I didn’t commit. Now, even though I’ve been proven innocent and freed, the state of Texas still treats me like a convicted killer.

Click here to sign my petition asking the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend me for a full pardon.

Thanks for your help.

Kerry Cook
Dallas, Texas