Keith Cooper speaks out about pardon from 1996 conviction

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(Photo supplied/Elkhart Truth)

He’s a free man and he couldn’t be happier.

“I’m Keith Cooper,” Cooper said in a press conference in Chicago with the Exoneration Project. “Not Keith Cooper with the D.O.C. #975234. I know that number better than my own (Social) Security, now it’s gone.”

Cooper was convicted of robbery resulting in serious injury from an incident in 1996. He received a 40 year prison term and, even though he was released from prison in 2006, he maintains he’s innocent, even though his felony conviction remains on his record.

Cooper feels DNA evidence, several witnesses recanting testimony, and shoddy investigative work by Elkhart police are why he’s innocent.

But despite that, Cooper had an uphill battle to get his record cleared. Former Governor Mike Pence never acted on his requests, and former Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill and current Prosecutor Vicki Becker vigorously defended his conviction.

Then, Eric Holcomb came along.

“Eric Holcomb, who hasn’t been in office 30 days, pardoned me,” an emotional Cooper stated. “I’m thankful for that, I’m VERY thankful, that he had the heart to do what Pence couldn’t do.”

Cooper has asked for an apology from Pence. Pence could not be reached for comment, according to the Associated Press.

You can listen to Cooper’s full press conference below.

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