If exonerated, Kerry Max Cook could receive $1.6 Million

Published: Apr. 9, 2012 at 10:28 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 23, 2012 at 10:28 PM CDT
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TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Monday a judge granted a former East Texan's request for more DNA testing he says could clear his name in a 35-year-old rape and murder.

In Monday's hearing, Kerry Max Cook's attorneys asked a visiting judge to grant that DNA testing and transfer all further hearings out of Smith County. If testing the evidence results in over-turning his conviction, then Cook could get $80,000 for every year of the 20 years he was in jail.

Cook was released from jail thirteen years ago, leaving many asking why he waited so long to try and clear his name.

"As far as why he waited so long... forgive the man. For 20-some odd years he had been fighting everyday to save his life," said Cook's attorney Marc McPeak.

"He persisted in his plea of no contest, only to come back 13 years later and file this motion which will net him, if granted, about 1.6 million," said Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.

"This case is not and has never ever been about money. Anyone who knows anything about the case or about Mr. Cook would understand that," said McPeak.

Cook's attorneys asked visiting Judge John Ovard to transfer their case out of Smith County. They said Cook has never been treated fairly in the county, but that request was denied.

They also asked the judge to grant a motion for more forensic DNA testing. The Smith County D.A.'s office says they have no problem with more testing.

"We're not objecting to the DNA motion. As I've said from the get-go, I wasn't involved in the Kerry Max Cook case prior to this. If they want something tested, have it tested. That's a double-edged sword. I'm going to have some stuff tested too, and I may find some incriminating evidence," Bingham said.

Bingham said next they have to find out what evidence still exists and what Cook's attorneys want tested.

He said those tests will cost thousands of dollars, but he said his office has no problem getting that evidence tested.

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