Title: Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn’t Commit
Author: Kerry Max Cook
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Summary: 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.
My Thoughts: Heart breaking. This book is heart breaking! I know the justice system is not perfect, but the lack of apologies is what bothers me with this read. Science back in the day was flawed, and there was fluff science but…I do not understand a system and a group of people that are unwilling to admit their mistakes. People are flawed. But this is past a flaw, this seems more willing to railroad another just to wrap up a murder. Or I guess what I am saying is their laziness. I no way think being in the justice system is easy, there must be a lot of red tape and you’d have so many tainted views but…justice is suppose to be blind. Follow facts, go down all the paths to ensure that the person you accuse is the right person. Not the easy target.
If you follow the podcast Truth & Justice you’ve probably heard Bob talk about this book and the case. I am baffled how the justice system is not willing to right their wrong. And it seems like the choices they made are on course for their, Smith County’s, normal. This is heart breaking to me. How can we trust and rely on a system that is unwilling to say we messed up, own up to it, and make it right. (Edit: Yes, while all charges against Kerry have been dropped. After a 40 year battle his name is officially cleared. I still find the battle depressing.)
I would love the other side to this story, because this is Kerry’s view and I want to know why the county went after him. Because of that one finger print? I doubt we will ever get the other side as I doubt Dobbs will be writing a book about this.
While I was writing this I found a very in-depth article written by Michael Hall in Texas Monthly that you also may want to read. It does give a bit of info into why the police went after Cook and a quick info into his 40 year battle.
I have read some reviews that talk about how one-sided and biased this book is. I don’t know what to say to that. It is his perspective and yes, perspectives usually lean one way. I definitely found it uncomfortable at times to read, especially some of the stuff he endured during prison. To me, the facts that he presented and his struggle is what I found compelling and the reason I read.
So happy I read this and that his name is finally officially cleared!