Murder weapon in Kerry Max Cook case kept as prosecutor's 'souvenir,' attorneys say
TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The knife used in a 1977 East Texas murder was kept by the former Smith County District Attorney for the last 10 years, attorneys say.
In a motion filed Monday by Kerry Max Cook's attorneys, they say an April 20, 2012, phone conference between Cook's attorneys, a Dallas judge and the Smith County District Attorney's office revealed that former Smith County District Attorney A.D. Clark, III, kept the murder weapon in his possession.
Cook's attorneys also say they learned Clark kept a slide of biological material from the case.
According to the motion, Smith County Assistant District Attorney Mike West explained that "Mr. Clark had retained the evidence as 'souvenirs.'"
In the motion, Cook's attorneys write, "the rather off practice of Mr. Clark keeping evidence of a murder case in his personal possession raises many questions, both legal and psychological."
A.D. Clark III says the allegations that he kept the evidence are, "absolutely 100 percent, completely false."
On April 9, 2012, Dallas Judge John Ovard granted Kerry Max Cook's request for more post-forensic DNA testing on evidence collected from the crime scene in 1977. In court fillings, Cook maintains that more DNA testing would prove his innocence.
According to the motion filed Monday, Cook's attorneys say they have learned, "that Mr. Clark, with the permission and assistance of other persons, has destroyed the chain of custody as to the murder weapon and potentially other items as well."
In April, Judge Ovard denied Cook's request to recuse Smith County Judge Kennedy from hearing his case. The request for recusal was made because Cook's attorneys allege prosecutorial misconduct has denied him a fair trial on multiple occasions.
In the newly filed motion, Cook's attorneys are requesting Judge Ovard reconsider the denial because of this newly discovered information.
In the motion, Cook's attorneys specifically ask Judge Ovard to reconsider recusing Judge Kennedy because they have learned that her husband was an assistant Smith County District Attorney during Cook's prosecution in the 1990s. They write that information raises the question, "Did Mr. Kennedy share his knowledge and opinions of Mr. Cook's case with his wife, Judge Kennedy?"
A hearing date on the motion for reconsideration has not yet been set.