Indiana candidates back Chicago man’s stalled pardon request

Keith Cooper with his wife Nicole Cooper and dog Gauge pose for a photo at their home in Country Club Hills, Ill. on Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Cooper was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a 1996 robbery in Elkhart, Ind., that he says he did not commit. Cooper, who spent nearly a decade in prison, asked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to grant him a pardon. (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune via AP)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The candidates for governor of Indiana say they would likely pardon a Chicago man whose request Gov. Mike Pence hasn’t acted on despite evidence the man was wrongly convicted of armed robbery.

Indiana's gubernatorial candidates Eric Holcomb, John Gregg and Rex Bell.
Indiana’s gubernatorial candidates Eric Holcomb, John Gregg and Rex Bell.

Republican Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a Tuesday debate he understands Pence’s stance that 49-year-old Keith Cooper should first exhaust all court options to clear himself of the 1996 Elkhart robbery. But Holcomb says he would quickly pardon Cooper if facts show his innocence. Pence hasn’t acted for two years.

Democrat John Gregg says he would immediately pardon Cooper based on his knowledge of the case.

The Indiana Parole Board recommended Cooper be pardoned in 2014.

Cooper was sentenced to 40 years in prison, but he was released after the state appeals court overturned his co-defendant’s conviction in 2005.


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