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Governor pardons Keith Cooper for Elkhart conviction

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an executive order on Thursday pardoning Keith Cooper for his 1997 conviction of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury.

In 1997, Cooper was convicted of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.

While in custody, but before he was convicted on the robbery charge, Cooper battered a fellow inmate and pleaded guilty to battery resulting in serious bodily injury and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

After Cooper had served ten years for the robbery conviction, Cooper's co-defendant's case was overturned by the Indiana Court of Appeals based on concerns about his trial and effectiveness of counsel.

Cooper was given the opportunity to leave prison for time served because of similar concerns about his case. He accepted the offer and was released in 2006.

The governor cites multiple reasons why he granted the pardon.

  • All of the eyewitnesses have recanted their statements and have said they were mistaken
  • The jailhouse informant recanted his testimony
  • DNA evidence from the hat worn by the robber points to a man who is in prison for murder and has been identified by eyewitnesses as the man who shot the victim and committed the crime
  • No DNA from Cooper was found on the hat
  • The victim and eyewitnesses have requested a pardon be granted
  • The deputy prosecutor who convicted Cooper supports the pardon
  • The trial judge had no objection to the pardon
  • The Indiana Parole Board unanimously recommended the governor issue a pardon to Cooper.

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