Victims of the State

Dauphin County, PA

Willie Comer

1961 (Harrisburg)

After being identified by witnesses, Willie Comer, 19, was convicted with two other men of taking part in a $250 holdup of the C & D Café in Harrisburg. Some months after Comer's conviction, a co-defendant, Dewitte Brown, 25, wrote to the DA and told him that Comer had nothing to do with the robbery and that Harold L. Edwards, 19, was the third man in the robbery. When brought to trial, Edwards admitted that he, not Comer, was present at the holdup. Edwards was acquitted after claiming he was unaware of the robbery plans of the other two men. Comer was released from Eastern State Penitentiary after four months of incarceration. His conviction was vacated and the charges against him were dismissed.  (Gettysburg Times) (The Innocents)  [3/11]

 Charlotte County, FL

Daniel Conahan, Jr.


Daniel Owen Conahan, Jr. was accused of killing six people and convicted of killing one. He maintains his innocence.  (Info)  [5/05]

 Australia (QLD)

Kelvin Condren

Sept 30, 1983 (Mt. Isa)

Kelvin Ronald Condren was convicted of the murder of Patricia Carlton. Carlton's body was found in a parking lot behind a Mt. Isa pharmacy.  (Report) (ALB)

Angelina County, TX 

Robert Carroll Coney

Mar 7, 1962

Robert Carroll Coney was convicted of robbing a Safeway supermarket of $2,000. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Police tortured Coney into confessing by crushing his fingers between the bars of his holding cell. Judge David Wilson wrote that the former Angelina County sheriff, Leon Jones, and his deputies “were known for obtaining confessions by physical force.” One of his tactics, he wrote, “was to get a prisoner's fingers on either side of a jail cell bar and squeeze those fingers until a prisoner confessed.” The lawyer who was called in to oversee Coney's predetermined guilty plea stated, “That sheriff was the most terrible sheriff we ever had.” Coney was imprisoned for 42 years before his conviction was vacated in Aug. 2004. Four of his fingers are still deformed.  (NY Times) (Archives)

 Suffolk County, MA

Kenneth Conley

May 27, 1997

Kenneth Conley, a Boston police officer, was convicted of perjury for testifying that he did not observe the police beating of a shooting suspect in 1995. The suspect happened to be an undercover officer. The conviction was overturned in 2000 because the prosecution withheld evidence that the witness against Conley expressed doubts about his memories and suggested that he be hypnotized.  (Boston Globe) (Appeals)  [11/05]

Philadelphia County, PA

Matthew Connor

Aug 21, 1978

Matthew Connor (aka Connors) was convicted of the rape and ice pick murder of 11-year-old Corinthia Fields.  Fields was found, covered with 196 puncture wounds, on the landing of a stairwell below the 18th floor of the Fairhill public housing project, in the 2400 block of North 11th Street. Centurion Ministries' investigation convinced the district attorney's office to reopen the case. The district attorney discovered that the police had hidden reports proving that the original trial testimony against Connor was false. Evidence indicated that the victim was killed by her half-brother.  Connor was freed in Mar. 1990.  (CM)  [5/05]

Baltimore County, MD 

Chris Conover

Oct 20, 1984 (Randallstown)

Chris Conover was convicted of murdering Charles “Squeaky” Jordan and his 18-year-old stepdaughter, Lisa Brown, during a home invasion. Brown's mother, Linda Jordan, was shot in the head but survived and offered eyewitness testimony. Conover had a seemingly airtight alibi as he was with dozens of people at a birthday party during the time of the murder. “Expert” FBI lab technicians testified that a hair found at the murder scene matched Conover's. DNA tests in 2003 excluded the hair as being from Conover. After Conover's conviction was overturned, prosecutors announced their intention to retry Conover. Desperate to get out of prison without waiting another year for a retrial, Conover agreed to plead no contest to the armed robbery related to the murder.  (AP News)  [12/05]

Sylvanus Conquest - See Burton & Conquest

Smith County, TX 

Kerry Max Cook

June 10, 1977 (Tyler)

Kerry Max Cook was sentenced to death for the murder of Linda Jo Edwards, a 21-year-old secretary. Edwards was a college student who was having an affair with her married professor. Cook was arrested in a club where he worked as a bartender. The club was chiefly known as a gay bar, and police theorized that Cook was a degenerate homosexual who hated women.
Read More by Clicking Here

 Los Angeles County, CA

Tony Cooks

Jan 19, 1980 (Paramount)

In 1980, eighteen-year-old Tony Cooks was accused of murdering John Franklin Gould. Gould, 42, had been accosted by three black teenagers one evening while he and his wife walked down a street near their Paramount apartment. Gould was beaten, stabbed, and shot. Gould's wife told police that the assailant was “a light-skinned black.” Police showed her a photo-lineup in which Cooks was the only light-skinned black, and she told police, “I can't be positive, but I think that's him.” However, at trial, Gould's wife would positively identify Cooks.

Another witness, Helen Foster, who said she saw the nighttime crime 177 feet from her apartment window, identified Cooks as one of the assailants. Two days after Cooks' arrest, a 14-year-old youth was also arrested after he confessed to his involvement in the crime; the youth then accused Cooks as also being a participant in the crime. Based on these identifications, Cooks was indicted for murder.

Cooks' first trial ended up in a hung jury; his second trial ended in a mistrial; his third trial ended in a hung jury. Finally, at his fourth trial, in 1981, Cooks was convicted of Gould's murder. However, the trial judge expressed skepticism about the eyewitness identifications and overturned the conviction. The prosecutor appealed the judge's decision and an appellate court reinstated the conviction. The judge, forced to pronounce sentence, ordered Cooks to prison for sixteen years to life, but freed him on $5,000 bond pending appeal. On appeal Cooks won the right to a fifth trial.

In 1986, at Cooks' fifth trial, it was revealed that the 14 year-old eyewitness against Cooks had told his probation officer that his testimony was a “lie” he made up in order to satisfy a persistent detective who would not take “no” for an answer. The fifth trial jury voted to acquit Cooks.  (Ramsey)  [10/07]

David Cooper - See Luton Three

Keith Cooper - See Parish & Cooper

 San Bernardino County, CA

Kevin Cooper

June 4, 1983 (Chino Hills)

Kevin Cooper was sentenced to death for the murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter, Jessica, 10, and a houseguest Christopher Hughes, 11. Another child, Joshua Ryen, 8, suffered a slashed throat and a skull fracture, but survived. Two days before the murders Cooper, then 25, had escaped from a minimum security prison in Chino where he had been sent a month earlier on a burglary conviction.
Read More By Clicking Here

Ralph Cooper - See Trenton Six

York County, SC 

Billy Wayne Cope

Nov 29, 2001 (Rock Hill)

Billy Wayne Cope, a white man, was charged with beating, sexually assaulting, and murdering his 12-year-old daughter Amanda. Amanda died at her family's Rich Street home in Rock Hill. Police suspected Cope, as there were no signs of forced entry to their home. After four days of interrogation while suffering from the stress of finding his daughter dead, Cope confessed to the crime. Later DNA tests of the semen found inside Amanda matched a black man, James Edward Sanders, who had a history of break-ins involving sexual assaults. Sanders had moved into Cope's neighborhood a few weeks before. Instead of dropping the charges against Cope, police, not wanting to waste a coerced confession, merely added a conspiracy charge, despite the fact that no connection was established between Cope and Sanders.

As trial neared in 2004, Judge John C. Hayes III refused to sever Cope's trial from that of Sanders and thereby prevented Cope's defense from presenting evidence of Sanders' other crimes. Sanders, who was released from prison before Amanda was killed, was charged with several York County crimes, including break-ins and a sexual assault that occurred after Amanda died. At the conclusion of the trial, both Cope and Sanders were convicted of the crime.

The television news magazine Dateline NBC later produced a two-hour report about the case which Prosecutor Kevin Brackett called, “...a blatant, slanted, one-sided, hit piece designed to make us look bad.” Brackett has since created a website in which he attempts to defend the conviction.  (TruthInJustice) (The Herald)  [12/05]

Alamance County, NC 

Ronald Cotton

July 28, 1984 (Burlington)

Ronald Cotton was convicted of raping Jennifer Thompson in 1985. The crime occurred in Thompson's apartment in Burlington, NC. The rape was almost identical to another rape committed immediately after Thompson's rape, but the other victim, Elizabeth Watson, had picked a different man out of a police lineup. Cotton was also excluded as the source of blood found on the door through which Watson's assailant entered. Later, the NC Supreme Court overturned Cotton's conviction because the trial judge refused to allow exculpatory evidence from the Watson rape.

While serving time in Central Prison, Cotton happened to meet a new inmate, Bobby Poole, who closely resembled a composite drawing that Thompson had made of her assailant. Poole also happened to be from Burlington and was serving time for rape. Cotton confronted Poole about the Thompson and Watson rapes, but Poole denied he was the assailant. However, another inmate soon reported that Poole had confessed to both rapes. Both Cotton and Poole worked in the prison kitchen and looked so similar that people there were mistaking the two by calling Cotton, “Poole.”

In 1987, Cotton was retried for raping Thompson and tried the first time for raping Watson. Watson had belatedly decided that Cotton was her assailant. At the retrial, the judge refused to allow evidence that an inmate had heard Poole confess to the rapes. Poole's blood type matched the blood spot found in Watson's case, but when Poole was called as a witness, he denied both rapes. Thompson also told the jury, “Bobby Poole didn't rape me. Ronald Cotton did.”

Cotton was convicted of both rapes, but in 1995, DNA tests showed that Poole had committed the Thompson rape. The biological material preserved from the Watson rape was too degraded to test. However, under questioning, Poole confessed to both rapes. The NC Governor subsequently pardoned Cotton. Cotton and Thompson have since become friends. The two appeared on a 60 Minutes episode about the case and on a consecutive episode about the fallibility of eyewitness identification. They also have jointly authored a book entitled Picking Cotton.  (60 Minutes) (Frontline) (CWC) (IP) (CBJ)  [3/09]

Lehigh County, PA

Dennis Counterman

July 25, 1988 (Allentown)

Dennis Counterman was sentenced to death for the arson murder of his three children. The children perished in a fire at their row house home located at 436 Chestnut St. in Allentown. On the morning of the fire, neighbors reported seeing Dennis in his back yard in his underwear screaming for help because his kids were inside. The fire department believed that the fire was set and accelerants must have been used because of the speed with which the fire spread through the house. Expert testimony has since shown that the type of sofa that was in the Counterman's house acts as its own accelerant, and that the fire theories relied upon by the local fire department were outdated and have long since been repudiated.

At trial, the prosecution suppressed exculpatory evidence, although it released some evidence in the middle of the trial when the defense team was too overwhelmed to review it. Counterman's six-year-old son, Christopher, had a history of fire starting and in fact had burn scars from a prior fire that he had started. Christopher had set fire to the curtains in the house one month before. The prosecution's lead witness, Counterman's mentally retarded wife, told investigators at the time of the fire that Dennis was asleep when the fire started (he had worked the night shift the evening before) and that she had awakened him to alert him that the house was on fire. Under the joint influence of police interrogation and heavy medication for severe burns, she subsequently gave a statement that Dennis had set the fire. Counterman's conviction was overturned in 2001 because the state withheld evidence of Christopher's fire starting. Rather than face the uncertainty of a new trial, Counterman agreed to a time served plea in which he did not have to admit guilt. He was released in Oct. 2006.  (TruthInJustice) (CounterPunch)  [1/07]

Orleans Parish, LA 

Shareef Cousin

May 2, 1995

Shareef Cousin was convicted of the murder of Michael Gerardi. To get reduced time on unrelated charges, former friend James Roswell fingered Cousin as the murderer, but later recanted. An eyewitness, who initially said she doubted she could identify the killer, but did say that he was shorter than the victim, said at trial she was 100% certain it was Cousin despite the fact that Cousin is 4 inches taller. Cousin had a taped statement given by his basketball coach establishing his alibi, but the prosecution altered the time given on the tape. Three teammates who waited outside the courtroom to testify were not available when the defense attorney went to call them. The defense found out too late that prosecutors had relocated the boys to the DA's air-conditioned office, supposedly to give them relief from the hot weather. After the murder conviction was overturned and charges were dropped, Cousin remained imprisoned because of a plea bargain he made on minor charges at a time when he felt his future was hopeless.  (Justice: Denied)  [6/05]

 Suffolk County, MA

Stephen Cowans

May 30, 1997

Stephen Cowans was convicted of charges related to firing a bullet into Sgt. Detective Gregory Gallagher's buttocks using the officer's own gun. The conviction was based on fingerprint evidence, but it was later determined that the fingerprint that allegedly matched Cowans, came from a hostage of the real shooter. The officer and another witness identified Cowans as the assailant, but the hostage witnesses who spent the most time with the assailant disagreed. The Boston Police Department technician who processed and matched the fingerprint had been suspended for ten days in 1992 after he was caught drunk without his pants along the Charles River. DNA tests exonerated Cowans and he was released in 2004. In 2006, Cowans was awarded $3.2 million.  (IP) (Boston Globe) (Boston Phoenix)  [10/05]

Allegheny County, PA

Da'Ron Cox

Dec 7, 1996 (Homewood)

Da'Ron Cox was convicted of murdering 19-year-old Brian Roberts. Ten days before his murder, Roberts pointed an automatic weapon at a police officer and was arrested. He was carrying 34 rocks of crack cocaine. He walked free after telling police the gun and drugs belonged to Roland Cephas. Cephas was busted and vowed retaliation.

Police arrested Cox after an imprisoned informant implicated him in exchange for money and freedom. Police also claimed Cox confessed during interrogation. Cox admitted confessing, but said police told him he would get the death penalty if he did not confess and would only prosecute him on a self-defense charge if he did confess. The informant said he saw Cox shoot Roberts at close range in the chest. Cox confessed to shooting Roberts from a distance in the chest. However, Roberts was actually shot in the back.

After the conviction, numerous witnesses have come forward indicating that neither Cox nor the informant were at the murder scene and that Cephas had killed Roberts in retaliation. Cephas and the informant were murdered in 1997 and 1999 during a wave of street gang killings. Cox is still imprisoned in 2006.  (Post-Gazette)  [12/06]

Richmond, VA

Cox & Hood

Aug 31, 1990

Jeffrey David Cox and Stephen James Hood were convicted of the abduction and stabbing murder of 63-year-old Eloise Cooper, a black woman. Two neighbors, both blacks, who witnessed the 3 a.m. abduction, stated the perpetrators were two white males. Police believed the perpetrators to be Billy Madison and Stephen Hood, but neither witness identified them in a lineup. Instead, they tentatively identified Jeffrey Cox, who was included in the lineup because he was a friend of Madison and because Hood suggested he might have been involved. Both witnesses said they wanted to see Cox in person to be sure. In a later lineup, one witness failed to identify Cox, and the other witness was not asked to view the lineup. Nevertheless at trial, both witnesses identified Cox as one of the perpetrators. Police believed the other perpetrator was Madison.
Read More by Clicking Here

 Orange County, FL

Robert Cox

Dec 30, 1978

Robert Craig Cox was convicted and sentenced to death in 1988 for the 1978 murder of Sharon Zellers, 19. Cox and his parents were from California and had been vacationing in Orlando. Zellers was an employee of Walt Disney World. The evidence against Cox was entirely circumstantial and included the fact that Cox was staying at a motel close to where the victim's body was found, that he had cut his tongue that night, and that blood samples found near the victim matched his blood type of O+ (a type shared by 45% of the population). The prosecution also presented testimony that a boot print found at the crime scene was consistent with a military type boot, which Cox could have been wearing, given job as an Army Ranger. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Florida unanimously reversed Cox's conviction, holding that the evidence could not possibly prove Cox's guilt. The Court ordered that Cox be released immediately.  (PC) (FLCC)  [7/05]

Harris County, TX 

Carlos Coy

Sept 1, 2001

Carlos Coy, a rapper whose stage name is South Park Mexican, was convicted of the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl. The girl had been invited over to Coy's house by his 6-year-old daughter. She claimed Coy touched her inappropriately during a supposed sleepover while a Scooby Doo tape was playing on the VCR and Coy's daughter had fallen asleep next to her. No physical evidence corroborated her accusation. During initial questioning at trial, the girl said she wasn't sure what had happened and thought it could have been a dream. She also said she did not remember the incident clearly. Given the girl's youth, she was highly susceptible to persuasion by relatives who may have wanted to target Coy because of his money and fame. Coy has at least six music albums with collective sales topping 1.5 million. The trial judge sentenced Coy to 45 years in prison. Three months after Coy's sentencing the girl's family filed a civil suit against him seeking unspecified damages.  (HC) (SPM's Music Videos)  [10/09]