Friday, June 20, 2014

Billy Wayne Cope: Andrew Cohen says in The Daily Beast that the Supreme Court must right the wrong done to Billy Wayne Cope - and allow for the testing of the evidence that had never happened.

POST: "The Supreme Court must right the wrong done to Billy Wayne Cope" by Andrew Cohen,  published by The Daily Beast on June 19, 2014;

SUB-HEADING:  "He offered inconsistent confessions for his daughter’s murder, and the DNA of another man—a serial rapist—was found at the crime scene. But South Carolina was determined to convict. Now the Supreme Court can bring him justice."

GIST: "Fair enough, you might be thinking at this point. Prosecutors would come to trial with Cope’s confessions. Cope’s lawyers would come to trial with the clear evidence of the pattern Sanders had established of breaking into homes in Cope’s neighborhood and sexually assaulting female victims in the course of nighttime burglaries. And jurors would be able to evaluate the evidence on both sides of the case and render a reasoned verdict. What’s more likely? That this man raped and killed his own daughter while his other two daughters lay sleeping and then confessed inconsistently about it? Or that a serial rapist prowling the neighborhood, whose semen was found at the crime scene, committed the crime? But this testing of the evidence never happened. Cope’s trial judge, a dubious jurist named John C. Hayes III, precluded Cope’s jurors from hearing about Sanders’s other crimes because, he ruled, they were not similar enough to the rape and murder of the little Cope girl. Nor did Judge Hayes permit Cope to tell jurors that Sanders had made incriminating statements to a fellow inmate about “what he did to that little girl in Rock Hill.” Predictably, hearing not remotely close to the whole story about Sanders and Cope, the jury quickly convicted Cope (and, of course, Sanders as well).........That was a decade ago. Since then, as the case has wended its way through the appellate courts, South Carolina has stubbornly defended the dubious result here by making two preposterous claims; 1) that Judge Hayes’s decision to preclude evidence of Sanders’s other crimes, and his jailhouse confessions, did not deprive Cope of a “meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense” and; 2) that the jury would have been “confused” and “prejudiced” had it heard the truth about Sanders. Again, put yourself in the role of a juror in the case. Do you think such evidence would have helped you reach an accurate result?.........The last word here goes not to prosecutors, or to the defense, or to the hapless judge, but to a group of law professors, specializing in evidence, who have asked the justices to accept Cope’s case and bring him relief. The purpose of the rule upon which the South Carolina courts relied in precluding Cope from presenting his best defense, these experts told the justices in Washington, is a rule designed to preclude, not ensure, wrongful convictions. This shouldn’t be a close call for the Supreme Court. This is about as unfair a trial as a white man can get in this country.""

The entire post can be found at:


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