Brandi Grissom of the Texas Tribune reports on a bizarre twist in the saga of Kerry Max Cook, who was in jail from 1978 to 1999 for a murder he did not commit, but has never been formally exonerated of despite two reversed convictions, a mistrial, and a “no contest” plea deal.
The prosecutor who sent Kerry Max Cook to death row in 1978 for a gruesome stabbing death has kept the blood-soaked murder weapon at his home for the last decade as a macabre “souvenir” of one of Tyler’s most infamous and brutal killings, according to a motion the former inmate’s lawyers filed Monday in Smith County.
Along with the knife, former Smith County District Attorney A.D. Clark III — now with the Texas attorney general’s office — also kept a slide with samples of Cook’s hair, the former inmate’s lawyers allege.
“The rather odd practice of Mr. Clark keeping evidence of a murder case in his personal possession raises many questions, both legal and psychological,” lawyers wrote in a motion asking an administrative judge to reconsider his decision last month to allow Cook’s case to remain in Smith County despite court findings of prosecutorial misconduct there in the past.
Clark said he completely denies the allegations “in every respect.”
Cook is still trying to formally prove his innocence with DNA testing and a new hearing. The allegation, which was attributed to former Smith County assistant district attorney Mike West, was part of a motion filed by Cook’s lawyers asking state adminstrative judge John Ovard to reconsider a previous decision to keep Cook’s latest hearing in Smith County.
As sensational as the alleged “souvenir” may