The Observer has written about the saga of Kerry Max Cook numerous times over the years, including former editor Mark Donald’s two-parter back in 1999. So you are probably, or should be, familiar with his story. If not: Cook was found guilty of killing Linda Jo Edwards in 1977, but that verdict was overturned. He was tried again; that ended in a mistrial. He was tried a third time, found guilty and sentenced to death, but that verdict was also overturned on appeal owing to “egregious prosecutorial misconduct.” Finally, to avoid going back to jail, he took a plea before a fourth trial — though he’s always maintained his innocence. He’s back in court now, free but trying to clear his name, and his lawyer is trying to get the case moved to a different jurisdiction. Besides for the three other trials that more or less proved he would not get a fair shake in Smith County, there is this: the former prosecutor allegedly keeps the “blood-soaked knife” used in the crime, and a slide with a sample of Cook’s hair, at home as a sort of souvenir. More germane:
What’s more, Cook’s lawyers argue, former Smith County prosecutors illegally destroyed much of the remaining evidence in the case that may have contained DNA that could have been tested to help prove Cook’s innocence. And, they said, the current district attorney lied about facts of the case during a court hearing last month.
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