Sunday, March 13, 2011

Billy Wayne Cope-What would Homer Cummings do?

The presumption of regularity is a convicted felon’s worse nightmare. An accused is innocent until proven guilty-but only before trial. Once convicted, the presumption of innocence is replaced with the presumption of guilt. Reviewing courts assume that the underlying proceeding was conducted in a fair manner and in accordance with the law. The jury’s verdict is near sacrosanct and rarely disturbed on appeal or in any subsequent proceeding. The problem is that sometimes juries make mistakes. Lies are sometimes believed; the truth, likewise, is occasionally obscured or ignored. The appellate courts are not designed to correct this type of error and will rarely substitute their judgment with that of the jury’s. Unfortunately, when errors of this sort are made, the wrongfully convicted have little recourse.

The case of Billy Wayne Cope is one such example. In the early morning hours of November 29, 2001, his twelve-year-old daughter Amanda was brutally raped and murdered in their Rock Hill, South Carolina home. Two men were arrested, tried, and convicted of numerous offenses relating to the death of this child. Cope was convicted of murder, two counts of criminal sexual conduct, criminal conspiracy, and unlawful conduct towards a child. James Sanders was convicted of murder, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and criminal conspiracy. The South Carolina appellate courts affirmed the convictions of both defendants. State v. Cope, 385 S.C. 274 (S.C. App. 2009); State v. Sanders, 388 S.C, 292 (S.C. App. 2009).

Cope became the prime and only suspect almost as soon as the crime was reported. The police were disturbed by his odd and seemingly emotionless behavior and his improbable explanation as to the cause of his daughter’s death. Cope was questioned by a number of investigators from both the police and social services. Initially, he denied any involvement. The following evening, the police questioned Cope for several hours into the early morning. In the face of continuing accusations, he repeatedly denied any involvement and offered no objection when the detectives requested a DNA sample. Despite his denials, the police continued to accuse him until finally, in an effort to clear himself, he asked the police to give him a polygraph examination. Cope apparently passed this examination; the polygraph examiner, however, told him he failed. After that, things went down hill very quickly for Mr. Cope. The accusations continued unabated until, according to Cope, he eventually broke down and confessed to the crime. Several more confessions, including a video taped re-enactment followed over the next couple of days.

Unfortunately for Mr. Cope, his claim that the confessions were coerced and untrue were fully litigated in the trial court and decided against him. Because the jury believed these statements, there is no question that the evidence is legally sufficient to support his conviction. Moreover, that conclusion is binding on reviewing courts and will continue to haunt him through any further post judgment proceedings. The problem is that those statements were probably false.

While there is a litany of items that demonstrate the falsity of Cope’s confessions, one fact, above others, demonstrates that that they simply were not true. In none of these confessions did Cope implicate or even mention the name of his alleged co-conspirator James Sanders. Sanders name did not become known until nine months later when his DNA was found in semen and saliva found on the body and clothes of the victim. Although the jury never heard it, Sander’s DNA, fingerprints and eyewitnesses implicated him in several other unsolved sexual assaults in the surrounding area. In these unrelated assaults, Sanders had acted alone without waking other occupants in the residence and left no signs of forced entry. The only rational explanation for this omission is that Cope did not know that Sanders committed this crime.

The most disturbing aspect of this case is the conduct of the South Carolina solicitors (prosecutors). The prosecutor plays a special role in a criminal trial. “He is not only an officer of the court, like every attorney, but is also a high public officer, representing the people of the State, who seek impartial justice for the guilty as much as for the innocent. In discharging his most important duties, he deserves and receives in peculiar degree the support of the court and the respect of the citizens of the county. By reason of his office, he usually exercises great influence upon jurors. His conduct and language in the trial of cases in which human life or liberty are at stake should be forceful, but fair, because he represents the public interest, which demands no victim and asks no conviction through the aid of passion, prejudice, or resentment.” State v. Ferrone, 96 Conn.160 (1921).

Sadly, the prosecutors in this case divorced themselves from their duty as ministers of justice and chose instead to satisfy the public’s demand for vengeance at the expense of an innocent man and to the detriment of a guilty one. The DNA tests that exonerated Cope and implicated Sanders presented a formidable obstacle to prosecuting either man. Had Cope and Sanders been tried separately, there was a substantial probability that each man would be acquitted leaving a horrific crime un-avenged. Most certainly, Cope would not have been convicted; his claims of coercion, coupled with scientific evidence of Sander’s complicity, speak volumes to his actual innocence and provide more than enough evidence to establish a reasonable doubt of his guilt. Likewise, the case against Sanders was problematic. The crime scene investigators were hampered by the admitted filth and chaos of the Cope home-the residence was strewn with trash, swarming with cockroaches, piles of clothing and unwashed dishes. Because the police believed Cope-and no one else- was responsible, they did not look for evidence of an outside intruder. This inadequate investigation, coupled with Cope’s confession to the crime, might have been enough to raise a reasonable doubt as to Sander’s guilt despite the conclusiveness of the DNA evidence.

To resolve the problems presented by this unique factual scenario, the York County Solicitor (prosecutor) came up with what has to be considered a brilliant legal maneuver-they charged Cope and Sanders with criminal conspiracy. Although there was no evidence that the paths of these two men had ever intersected before that fateful November night, they glibly asserted that such proof was not necessary. Because the evidence showed that both men were guilty, they argued, it must mean that Cope and Sanders did it together. This maneuver solved a number of problems: it allowed the prosecutors to ignore the glaring deficiencies in the police investigation including the uncomfortable suggestion that the police may have extracted a false confession from an innocent man; and more importantly it allowed both men to be tried together rather than separately. The court’s decision to try these men deprived both of a fair trial as it effectively conscripted each defendant to act as a prosecutor of the other-substantially easing the burden of the county solicitors.

In many jurisdictions, the appellate courts would reverse the convictions of both Sanders and Cope. Solicitor Kevin Brackett’s arguments to the jury were clearly improper and designed to distract the jury from the actual facts. It was improper of him to argue that Sanders could not have committed this crime alone and could only have committed it with the assistance of Cope. While the jury did not hear the evidence of Sander’s other crimes, Solicitor Brackett knew that Sanders was quite capable of surreptitiously entering a residence leaving no trace of forced entry and committing this type of crime without waking the other occupants. Brackett also knew that Cope’s two other children were present and there was no evidence that they were awakened during the evening. Instead, he invited the jurors to speculate that these children did witness the event but were too terrified to testify-a ludicrous proposition considering Cope had been incarcerated for several years by the time of trial.

It is clear that Solicitor Kevin Brackett never seriously considered the possibility that Cope’s confessions were untrue. His closing statement was replete with instances of improper opinion designed to inflame the passions and prejudices of the jurors. He contemptuously dismissed the defense experts claiming they came to South Carolina from other states only to collect a paycheck. Rather than addressing the issues raised, he instead urged the jurors to apply his standards of credibility-standards not authorized by law and clearly inappropriate. He urged the jurors to apply the “Winn-Dixie” test arguing that the credibility of the defense experts should be determined by the likelihood that a juror might bump into them at a local grocery store. He referenced a rule applying to Naval officers in times of combat to improperly argue that a defense pathologist’s testimony should be ignored because he was not present when the autopsy was performed on Amanda’s body. Most egregious however, was the “McCain test” where he argued that no man would confess to the crimes Cope confessed to unless it was true. He invoked the image of Senator John McCain claiming that even after months of torture in a Vietnamese prison camp, McCain and the other prisoners’ never confessed-a claim that is not only highly improper but also patently false.

Cope’s trial was covered by NBC’s Dateline in July 2010. Although he South Carolina solicitors refused to appear on that show, shortly thereafter, they set up a website to correct the impression that Mr. Cope was “railroaded by a justice system that was both corrupt and inept.” That website provides a wealth of information including the trial transcripts and appellate briefs without which an informed decision would be difficult. While there is little doubt that Cope was railroaded, it had nothing to do with an inept judicial system. To the contrary, the solicitors in this case demonstrated enviable skills of advocacy that is prized in the legal profession. No one can seriously argue that the system is corrupt either. There can be little doubt that Solicitor Brackett sincerely believes that Cope and Sanders committed these crimes together; more likely, his failure was in allowing his beliefs to obscure the facts and used his considerable talents to convince the jurors to do likewise.

Most people have never heard the name Homer Cummings. For many years, Mr. Cummings was a distinguished lawyer in the state of Connecticut. He was the founding partner of the Stamford law firm, Cummings & Lockwood, which still exists and bears his name. He was active in politics throughout his life and, from1933 to 1939, served as attorney general under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. From 1914 to 1924, Mr. Cummings served as the State’s Attorney for Fairfield County. Although he tried and convicted many serious felonies during that time, he is most remembered for a case he did not prosecute.

Harold Israel was arrested for killing a priest on a Bridgeport street corner in February 1924. Father Hubert Dahme was a popular Catholic priest and the community was outraged by the crime. The police conducted an intense search for the perpetrator and a week later arrested Israel. He met the general description of the gunman and, at the time of his arrest, possessed a revolver of the same caliber as the weapon that killed Father Dahme. The case against him was made stronger when seven eyewitnesses identified him as the gunman. Confronted with this evidence, the weak-minded Israel confessed to the crime. He later recanted his confession and maintained his innocence.

Faced with this mountain of evidence, most defense lawyers would have advised Israel to plead guilty in the hopes of avoiding the death penalty. Most juries do not believe evidence that calls into question the truthfulness of a confession and conclude, “he would not have confessed if he didn’t do it.” Most prosecutors agree that false confessions do occur, but correctly argue that they are the exception rather than the rule and usually do not take such claims seriously. Homer Cummings was different. Despite this overwhelming body of evidence-evidence that most prosecutors would accept at face value-Cummings conducted an independent investigation and concluded that Israel was innocent of the crime. In a decision that surprised and angered the local police, Cummings refused to prosecute the case claiming that Israel’s confession was coerced from an exhausted and overwhelmed person of diminished capacity. In a 90-minute presentation to the court he discredited the all of the evidence that the police has amassed against Israel. At the time, Cummings was criticized for his action; today, he serves a role model for prosecutors that are more concerned with ensuring that impartial justice is meted out to the guilty as well as the innocent.

There is no question what Homer Cummings would have done were he prosecuting Billy Wayne Cope. Sadly, that action was not taken by the South Carolina solicitors.

131 comments:

  1. What kind of monsters are these prosecutors, and judges? I fear for the lives of innocent people in the state of South Carolina. I personally will never step foot in the state of South Carolina, knowingly support any commerce from the state of South Carolina and in fact will vilify the state until the people who were elected or appointed to serve justice are themselves brought to justice for their horrifying crimes and violations of the law during the prosecution of Billy Cope. I am physically sick after discovering the gross abuse of this man's constitutional rights. I do hope when this man is finally vindicated that the state of South Carolina is sued to oblivion.

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    1. How dare Kevin Bracket post a letter from Copes daughter stating she won't call him her father. For what, proof of guilt? She is only a improperly educated member of the prosecutions web of lies. After all the controversial evidence and his avoidance of interviews, the solicitor say he doesn't want to say anything so mess up the appeal process for the states case. How can you mess up the truth? He is concerned about saying the "wrong thing" of Mr Copes stressful coercion. Copes daughters letter should stand as proof to the public and more importantly build further the case to remove power and have Bracket disbarred.

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    2. My only observation of this case would be....The number of innocent people in jail must be higher than the courts lead us to believe....the only way to fix this problem is to stop allowing self promotion of lawyers and judges to higher power on convictions of this nature...unbelivable and sickening.

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    3. sense when can a so called brillant legal maneuver be the obstical a innocent man cant get justice. Im sick of hearing what a good job these arrogant lawless hicks are doing to keep this poor man in jail. Its also obvious what poor people justice looks like now!

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    4. There is no doubt that the defendent was poor. There is also no doubt that Mr.Cope and his late wife were not the best house keeper's..and maybe weren't fit by law to have children in there home...BUT in NO WAY does this mean that he killed his daughter. I watched this program and have never seen such gross and prejudicial "justice". I cannot believe this judge wouldn't let the letter from the one man who did know what happened in that room.."DNA people" clearly stating Who is Mr. Cope? A fair trial was clearly denied to this man. If this man had money,We wouldn't be even hearing about this!

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    5. I was appalled at the lack of true justice and the behavior of the prosecutorial department in this case. Not only did they appear to handle things unethically, but also bullied the jury once the case was finished in court. They did not even want them to talk to the cameras without the prosecutor also being in the room with them to oversee what was taking place. I cannot believe this man, after all the evidence that was produced by the defense, is guilty. If it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. Think about it.

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    6. Before you believe what Dateline wants you to believe go to this site. http://billywaynecope.com/ Spend time and listen to the closing arguments. No question the guy is Guilty. Listen to the 911 call the guy could care less that his daughter was dead.

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    7. Hey you anonymous of Feb 21 109 pm. Shut up. This man is innocent and these procuetors can rot in the underworld. Shut up billy cope is innocent!

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    8. They knew they screwed up. Once they discovered it, they already wrecked the scene. Note, they never really proved the assailant's guilt, other than DNA. So, technically they didn't even rightfully try him. Though he's obviously guilty. Billy I feel horribly sick for. Lost his daughter, wife, then the rest of his kids. He lost his life, and the prosecution don't care, nor the investigators. The judge even played his part in this miscarriage. Plus, where the hell did they get this jury from?

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    9. I agree with you about the incompetence about the prosecutor, cops and Judge pertaining to the Billy Cope case. You can't carbon copy a reaction to your child being dead. Not everyone is going to show emotion in front of people. But I find you unfairly judging the state for the actions of the people involved in the man's case. I love in another part of the state where hopefully everyone who is guilty is guilty. Unfortunately, we lost our solicitor (that's what the prosecutor is called) to Congress and he is a nice guy. But he doesn't represent York County and I do hope they see the light and let Mr. Cope out of jail. But remember, injustice happens all over the United States, mainly because people don't act like police and the prosecutor's think they should act. The evidence says Mr. Cope is innocent and I believe him. He doesn't seem like a bad guy and I wish I could do something, but my hands are tied. I sat on a jury once, but it wasn't a murder case (drug trafficking) and it took us hours to see the evidence that backed up the witnesses testimony, and it wasn't in favor of the defense. I hope you reconsider about boycotting the state and just aviod the jurisdiction where the case occurred.
      Anita in South Carolina.

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    10. I truly believe Mr. Cope was innocent. For God sakes, how many denials did he give...When I watched the program that Date Line aired, I felt an overwhelming sense of hopelessness for the defendant. He, in my opinion was not given a fair trial and yes I feel that he was coerced. My wishes for Mr. Cope, that he remain strong in his defense and hopefully he will be acquitted on an appeal.

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  2. This is what happens when some bass-ackwards people get power positions. That, or "Good Ole Boy" justice. Good Lord.....anyone with a shred of common sense can see Mr. Cope is innocent. I wonder how many people were $$ off through this whole process.

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  3. I watched this case tonight. What a travesty. How does this Prosecutor sleep at night? You summed it up good here.

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  4. I just saw the Dateline NBC program on this subject today. I was outraged and decided to look to the internet to fact check. I first came upon Solicitor Brackett's website and was put off by the fact that he said the entire objective of the website was to counter Dateline, but decided to read the evidence for myself. This prosecutor is clearly delusional and falsely convinced of Mr. Cope's guilt based on his socioeconomic status and housekeeping (which we can all clearly see lacks). But to go from poor and messy to a rapist and a murderer seems like a far leap. Mr. Brackett has clearly has a propensity to group all negative traits into one category that equates poor and messy to a rapist and a murderer. Billy Wayne Cope deserved a fair trial of his own. He didn't receive one. The true perpetrator of this crime, Mr. Sanders, was used as a pawn to railroad Mr. Cope into a guilty verdict. I'm so glad I don't live within Mr. Brackets’ jurisdiction, otherwise I would have to fear daily of being falsely accused and more or less framed for crime(s) I didn't commit. Mr. Brackett and Mr. Sanders are the true criminals in this sad story!

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  5. This is the worst case of injustice I have ever seen!! That Judge should be disbarred without fail. These prosecutors are the worst people on this planet. Knowing they are convicting a completely innocent man is just horrid. Cope is so innocent it's almost laughable. I am so glad I don't live in South Carolina!! I don't believe anyone is safe there with that law enforcement just lurking around waiting to falsely convict people. They have the worst justice system in history. You would have to be completely ignorant to think Cope killed his daughter. The only thing Billy Wayne Cope is guily of is living in South Carolina and that is a fact!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    1. Well, see another one that will make you sick at your stomach. http://www.trialanderrordennis.org/ (TWENTY)-THREE YEARS AND COUNTING!
      What’s Happening in the Dennis Dechaine Case
      This man has been in prison 23 years and is clearly innocent. States dont like to admit they made a mistake. The mistake is to think their injustice is going to be forgotten. They want them to die off and it be forgotten. Our justice system is so awful its scary. In some instances as bad as Russia. Wake up America before the steel trap slams shut on you. These people deserve at least a retrial and all evidence presented. Its very evident that if hammered enough a person will admit guilt to stop the hammer. Its called brainwashing. These are things much of society is in denial over because that is easier to accept than reality. There are many cases like this. Even the one it Texas where the investigation was shut down by the governor rather than let the truth come out.

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  6. South Carolina= Hell On Earth..I am going to start thanking God every morning that I don't live there. In a place where it's so obvious someone is innocent in South Carolina it doesn't matter because the Judges there can keep out all the defenses evidence to get convictions..WOW is all I can say.. You have to feel sorry for Cope:-(. Just aweful.......

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  7. An idiot could see the corruption here. They probably can't afford a law suit so to them what's one less poor man off the streets! Shame on you SC! It was a conspiracy the minute they found out it was not his dna. Cope was interrogated for 17 long hours and denied counsel. I have a feeling SC Supreme court will not allow an appeal but I bet you the US Supreme Court will...these folks are educated! What about that heifer that forged the letters? She was playing both sides of the fence...she was called in at the beginning...they better check and see why Cope's wife died in her care. She was offered a plea bargain to work with them. What a poor excuse for a prosecutor! I hope Cope gets an appeal and wins his case. Maybe Armanda opened the door thinking it was her mother.

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    1. Exactly. Why hasn't anyone questioned Amy Simmons about how Cope's wife died? I've never heard HOW she died, just that she died in Simmons' care after a hysterectomy. Makes you wonder???????

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    2. I too wondered if Cope's wife was murdered by Amy Simmons. They said the other "mysterious" death of a patient in her care quietly went away. I believe she is as guilty as Sanders. I don't recall if they were able to say that the paper the supposed "confession" wasn't even available in prison. I would go near South Carolina if you paid me. I've been seeing alot of commercials trying to get tourists to go there. Why? So they can get life in prison for noting. They will just say "you conspired with the other criminals".

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    3. Hell yeah. I was thinking the same thing. Amy Simmons "Nursing" the wife. I'd bet my life she killed her. That is highly suspicious. Someone needs to look into that.

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  8. Good points about the forged letter chick!! Let's let her go....she's guilty, lol. I hope this is a vaid question. What can you do when you aren't allowed to be defended because a Judge won't let in evidence that will vindicate you???

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  9. The U.S Supreme Court should overturn his case. And I beleive that the prosecutor should be brought up on charges himeself, so he can see what and feel what Cope is and continue to go through living behind bars....

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    1. Bring that judge up on charges too.

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  10. It's really too bad that none of you have the reading comprehension skills to understand what's right in front of you and instead would choose to swallow wholesale what a TV show sells to you.

    Honts used a different scoring system than Baker regarding the polygraph test, that's all...and Honts failed to convince the jury that Baker's scoring was incorrect, and even Honts admitted that Baker came from a respectable school of polygraph that used respectable methods of scoring.

    "Instead, he invited the jurors to speculate that these children did witness the event but were too terrified to testify-a ludicrous proposition considering Cope had been incarcerated for several years by the time of trial."

    It's not ludicrous when you factor in the immense fear they felt that night and before, fear of their father; as well, the System had failed them before, returning them to the parents who'd kept them in a trailer with more than a dozen buckets of human waste for toilets, *despite* both of the Copes pleading guilty to child neglect. You can't convince someone who's been through that once before that it can't happen again...at least, not until that person is found guilty and put away for good.

    For ambulance chasers and wannabes, you people don't do very good jobs reading transcripts.

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    1. And since when is hoarding and poor hygiene and indication of rape and murder,
      You who think you are smarter than everyone else?

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    2. No you are for feeding into the bull that the prosecutors fed you. Maybe people like you should have it done to you and then you will know the feeling. Just saying.

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    3. Wow your the perfect example of why the justice system fails people, your point of view is as wortless and pointless as all the corrupt people involved with destroying this mans life. And in the end I hope all those worthless people get there chance to sit behind bars and pay for what they have done. And after justice is served those people will have a huge lawsuite on them, so dont worrie he will be able to provide for his daughters and hopefully have somewhat of a good life after all he deserves alot more because he will never get all those years back, thanks to people of your kind.

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    4. This man must be from South Carolina, or a relative of the prosecutor.

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  11. That last comment is simply sad. You have to pull yourself away from the emotion of the situation and think logically. Solicitor Bracket? Was that you?

    I am a lawyer in Nevada with a great deal of experience reading transcripts. I appreciate the website that you (Solicitor Bracket) put together because it has all of the evidence available. What is strange is that reading through the transcripts on the website had the complete opposite effect of what Bracket intended . . . I am now absolutely convinced of Cope's innocence.

    Try to pull yourself away from the case and think rationally . . . You put a man in prison because he was filthy human being and a terrible father -- fine. His daughters hated him and hated living in that filth -- fine. What is NOT fine is completely abandoning your prosecutorial duty and seeing to it that an innocent man was sent to prison. If I lived in South Carolina I would bring a civil cause of action on behalf of Mr. Cope for malicious prosecution.

    You cannot honestly believe those confessions were legitimate. Can you? Why would he have finally confessed to the crime after 650 straight denials and not mentioned his co-conspirator? COME ON MAN! For those of us who care about justice, we can hope that the governor of South Carolina pardons Mr. Cope. I am sure that he can get some civil restitution against the State of South Carolina and hopefully, put this matter behind him.

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    1. Well to my mind it is the lady doth protest too much. Worse the evidence of the jurors eyes and ears. Four confessions that contradict each other, no evidence given to show or prove conspiracy. The claim that if you find both men guilty that's enough to prove the conspiracy.

      However the biggest affront it that Bracket registered the name of billywaynecope.com and uses that to endlessly justify why he prosecuted Mr. Cope and it seems he does so on the taxpayer's dime.

      I know that registering the web site that is used to convince people Cope is guilty in Cope's name would not concern the Justice Department of S.C. but shouldn't the S.C. bar chastise or censor Bracket for this behavior?

      Isn't this the only case in the U.S. where Exonorating DNA was found but the trial proceed anyway?

      The whole don't look behind the curtain bit would have offended me as a juror and I would of acquitted him based on the insult(well okay I wouldn't)
      The vindictiveness of Bracket is amazing and he looks more guilty of railroading an innocent man every day.

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  12. Pardon is not the answer; pardon does not overturn the conviction of an innocent man. The Supreme Court must review this case and condemn the portion of the South Carolina justice system that allowed it to happen, from assessing the qualifications (or lack therof) of local law officers, to outing the absence of morals and ethics of the prosecutor and judge in this case.

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  13. What a horrible, horrible miscarriage of justice!!! The Judge should be thrown off the Bench, Hackett should be tried for prosecutorial misconduct and the detectives should be tried for violation of Mr. Copes civil rights denying him legal counsel when he ask for it. We live in America for God sakes!!! This is 3rd world county prosecution tactics!!!

    The jury was not given all the facts to make an educated decision. If they had, I believe their decision would have been different even with the 4 confessions. The Jurors have NO IDEA what ‘THEY THEMSELVES’ would admit to if they had gone through hours upon hours upon hours of intense interrogations by detectives. I hope Mr. Copes conviction will be overturned and I will keep him in my prayers.

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  14. Please stop by Billy's site and show your support! Billywaynecope.net

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  15. Terrific post. Our justice system does not deal with the problem of false confessions well at all. The Norfolk Four comes to mind.

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  16. I just saw the replay of the Dateline episode. This combined with the Casey Anthony verdict has made me lose all faith in our court system. It is difficult to believe that there was not 1 juror in either case that would stand up against the rest of the jurors and cause a hung jury. Where is it written that they have to convict or acquit? In this case, even with the testimony the judge did not allow there was enough reasonable doubt that at least one juror should have said I think this man is not guilty and stopped the rest from convicting him.

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    1. I agree!! I cannot help but place some blame on the jurors....what were they thinking???? Obviously, they were not thinking...

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  17. Has any one seen the comment posted by solicitor Bracket on the NBC website? He is posing as Jessica Cope and condeming her father.

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  18. I applaud Solicitor Brackett for setting the record straight.

    After reading the documents and trial transcript on his website, it is abundantly clear that Cope and Sanders are guilty.

    Dateline should be ashamed.

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    1. Nice try Brackett

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    2. Do most people there believe the same as you? I'd be curious to know. :)

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    3. The U.S. Supreme Court HAS to stop this nonsense. And the prosecutor and judge in S.C. need to be forced to face some sort of punishment for the terrible things they've done here. They did let their own ideas get in the way of justice. And the jurors? Wow that one on Dateline just ignorant. And all the jurors agreed? I'll NEVER set foot in S.C., there is just too much ignorance going on in that state.

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  19. This is a total miscarriage of justice at the hands of the judge and prosecutor in this case. In case anyone does not know I am from the area and I can guarantee you it is a CONSPIRACY btwn the judge and prosecutor. They work in conjuction with the judge blocking any evidence or motions that would help the defense creating a ripe environment for a conviction. They attempt to try high profile cases in front of Judge Hayes for this very reason. I can guarantee that judgment day is coming soon for all involved. A light will be shed on the cases that Brackett have tried in conjuction with Judge Hayes and it will be clear what they do together. They are a modern day LYNCH MOB.

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    1. Well it is good to know that not everyone in that area is as ignorant as the members of the judicial system there. It is just unbelievable. I am going to continue to add fuel to the fire until Billy Wayne Cope gets justice.The prosecutor and judge ought to be ashamed of themselves for being so bull-headed they would not admit that he didn't do it. They not only ruined his life, they ruined the other children's lives. Shameful! AND, why didn't they look into the death of the elderly person their witness was accused of killing? That case went suddenly silent. I also wonder about the death of Billy Wayne's wife while she was staying with that same woman.

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  20. I am absolutely stunned at the injustice and how this case was handled. Is everyone in power - from the president down to the justice system in a conspiracy for evil. What has happened to our wonderful America!! EVERYONE, KICK THE Crooks OUT OF OFFICE, AND prosecute those in the justice system that blocks evidence. Give this man a new trail with an honest judge and prosecutor. And what about them not letting the appointed attorney in to see Cope until after they forced a confession from him. WE WANT JUSTICE FOR EVERYONE ONE -

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  21. Has anyone looked at the nurse friend that forged the letter for her care of Billy Wayne's wife? Odd how she passed under her care. 99% of law enforcement are good people. 1% are demons. After watching many real shows on TV call 911 and say help. Sob uncontrollably and have them take you to the hospital for care for your depression. As soon as they ask you the first question, ask for your attorney and never say another word simply because you may say the wrong thing. Ask if you are under arrest. If not, leave and go home. Let your attorney answer any and all questions. Without your statement, they have nothing to use against you. On the other hand. If you committed a crime. Admit it.

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  22. Praying for the Cope family. My opinion is that the Judge, Prosecutors, Police, & Mr. Cope's family friend Amy should have charges brought against them. They should be on their knee's praying for forgiveness.

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  23. Billy Cope is innocent. Anybody with a sliver of brain matter can see that. The majority of law enforcement personnel are scum. They are some of the best liars out there. More importantly, they have a insatiable desire to wield some illusion of control and power. No matter what, ALWAYS tell them you want an attorney and simply get up and leave if you are not under arrest. Never, under any circumstance, allow them to question you without your attorney present. Prosecutors and detectives are trained liars and will use a range of tactics to make you slip up. I am very surprised that so many people actually trust these liars. Wonder how many innocent people have been put to death. The death sentence is government sanctioned murder and should never be a sentencing option. One of these days hopefully we will emerge from the dark ages.

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  24. What happened to Mary Cope? Did she really die of natural causes at age 32? Where's the shady nurse?

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  25. Justice, I have lost faith in mankind after watching the South Carolina jury find Mr. Cope guilty. With the help of Mr. Brackett and judge Hayes not allowing crucial evidence where a mans life is involved does not seem to me and the majority of these other people who have commented to be a FAIR trial..I have aslo visited Bracketts website with the letter from Jessica (Amandas sister) it is typed up which leads me to believe either Mr. Brackett or Mr. Copes pen pal who had forged other letters..COVER-UP everywhere you look they are trying to cover their ass.. I will stay away from South Carolina for sure..GET A ROPE

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  26. This is on TV again this morning...sadly this kind of justice is rampant in the South, especially South Carolina. As many people move to this area of the country and see the differences of how things are done...we only stand in shock. You think of our beaches, and that life is great, what people don't understand SC, is a poor, uneducated state, and I personally would hope I never need a trial by jury while living here in this state. Hopefully the influx of people from all parts of the US, will put a final stop to York County SC good old boy network, and trust me it exists!!!

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  27. Oh and yeah...the 9-18-11 4:38 comment from me? Who better to comment than a resident of York County SC...I see this injustice EVERY FREAKING SINGLE DAY !

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  28. Fact are facts. Irrefutable. Trying to deduce what they mean is not an easy chore. The fact that police, and indeed the prosecutor, acted irresponsibly and, likely, illegally, is still clouded by the actual evidence against Billy Cole. Setting aside a faulty polygraph, a forged letter and any coercion by detectives, the evidence - those pesky facts, again - supports various confessions but not a one of his various denials. His explanations of innocence are as fluid and dishonest as his explanations of his guilt.

    There is definitely something wrong with the case but it just as surely is not what Dateline (an entertainment venue) claims it is.

    Preponderance of the evidence, what do the facts suggest? Conspiracy? Uh, no. Innocence? Also, no. It's a damn good thing I'm not his defense attorney OR the prosecutor. The entire case and subsequent trial are nothing but a fiasco that inexplicably put two men behind bars that undeniably need to be. And it did it with the wrong "story".

    Keystone cops, V.2.

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    1. What kind of gibberish is this?

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    2. What kind of gibberish is this?

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    3. You'd be surprised that more and more the good networks truly are seeking truth. I have been very surprised and impressed with some of the Networks....

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  29. It is really sad that this man has spent any time in Jail. First, you have the confessions of Mr. Cope didn't any think it was strange that all of the confession were different? Next, you have the want to have her 15 minutes of fame good friend who later turn out to be a tutncoat. You have the police not getting any getting pertinent evidence from the crime scene and the illegal move when they sent his wife in to talk to him in which they illegally taped. You have no DNA evidence linking Mr. Cope to the crime and the fact that the police new this for months before they informed the defense. You have the man who committed the murder and who stated that he did not know Mr. Cope. Finally you have a Judge who did not allow pertinent evidence be allowed which is wrong in it self. I don't know what type of trailer park jurors you have in South Carolina but in my eyes they should have found Mr. Cope not guilty because there were reasonable doubt. However, I do believe that Mr. and Mrs. Cope were guilty of one thing and that was child neglect. As a social worker I saw many houses in the same disgusting condition. I am more than happy that I live in California where we don't have a legal system that will convict you of a crime you did not commit, Vickie Woolfolk

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  30. I would like to thank those who have taken the time to comment on this post and hope that the SC Supreme court will order a new trial. I now confess that I never would have started this blog were it not for my strong feelings about this particular case; the posts prior to this one were just the calm before the storm. Those that have praised Homer Cummings for the brave action he took in the case of Harold Isreal overlook the fact that this was one of his last official acts as State's Attorney. I conclude from that fact that Mr. Cummings knew or had strong suspicions that the police engaged in this type of behavior before and waited for the right case and the right time to take this extraordinary action. During my twenty-four plus years as a prosecutor, there were many times that I saw and heard things that did not sit well with me and wish I had the courage to speak out earlier

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    1. It's never too late to do the right thing. I hoe to speak to you about the S.C. case as well as the WM3 case in Arkansas... I'm easy to find, but I can't seem to find your ph # on line.

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    2. Vincent... Hoping to talk more!

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    3. As an educator of special needs students, the thing that bothered me through the whole Dateline episode was the way people judged Billy's actions and reactions when it seemed to me that he might be someone who could have benefitted from specially designed education. I don't mean to insult him at all, I just really believe that he reacted the way he did and was convinced to confess as easily as he was and was as trusting as he was because maybe he is a person of limited intelligence. This may also be why they kept house the way they did etc. Therefore, I believe he is innocent and that he loved his children to the best of his ability.

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  31. I have watched the story a few times and everything u see it, I get teary eyes and heart break. I don't know what kind of justice system they have in SC, but it's not right. How you see all that evidence and still ignore it? Somethings must be wrong with the people of SC. The judge, prosecutor n jury should be prosecuted for being unfair, blind and completely stupid. Shame on you SC. I'm disgusted by the whole thing!!! I hope he wins his appeal and sue the crap out of them

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  32. What about the willfully ignorant jurors? I think you should have to pass an IQ test in order to serve on a jury. I served on one once, I didn't like it, but I did it anyway. We convicted him, his own lawyer admitted he was guilty of felon in possession of a firearm, but her excuse was "it wasn't even loaded".

    This jury was negligent. So was the judge, the cops, the prosecutors. I thank God I don't live in this backwards ass state.

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  33. As a nurse, I can tell you that the "family friend", should be in jail. As a person with common sense, I can tell you that the entire prosecution team, from the Judge-to the police department-should be charged. I have NEVER SEEN a bigger mis-carriage of justice. I am SO THANKFUL, that I do not live in South Carolina. It is very interesting that the prosecutor would not even ALLOW the jury to be interviewed without him video-taping it. He CLEARLY has something to hide. And to send Billy's own wife in to audio tape him in jail-WHY DO THAT IF THEY ARE CONVINCED OF HIS GUILT??? I no longer even want to VISIT the beaches there. I don't want to end up spending the rest of my life in prison.

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  34. The prosecutor is obviously afraid of what the jurors would say. Hopefully, the supreme court will set this right. I doubt anything will be done to the cops or judge or prosecutors, nothing ever is.

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  35. In what system of just does the judge have a right to disallow relevant information:

    -the past criminal history of the "co-conspirator"
    -the expert testimony on false confessions (completely cut off)
    -the forged nature of the confession letter

    Throw that judge off the bench and prosecute HIM.

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  36. After watching Dateline and reading all of these comments several things are very evident.
    Mr Cole is not the brightest crayon in the box.
    His defense team is to be commended.
    Not the worst police force in the US but in the top ten worst.
    A prosecutor that hates to lose and will do anything to stop that from happening.
    Twelve people that were not smart enough to get out of jury duty.
    A judge that was probably related to the prosecutor.
    And last but not least it is South Carolina.

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  37. Did anyone see the prosecutor'd website that is an attempt the office's actions? It is a disgusting display and an obvious attempt to justify all their wrong doings. I cannot help but think of that old Shakesperean phrase...I Think thou doth protest too much. These people, from the detectives that investigated the case, to the prosecutors office should be criminally prosecuted themselves.

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    1. I watched a little of the prosecutor's website, but i became bored with it really fast. When Mr. Brackett starting rambling on and on about their filthy house I could not watch anymore. Being guilty of having a dirty house does make you a rapist. I can't help but agree with you about the Shakesperean phrase!! Good luck to Mr. Cope and his family and I pray that he gets a fair trial soon and is released from prison. With all the money he will be entitled to he can hire a housekeeper.

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  38. I wonder if anyone is looking into the time and effort that the Prosecutor is using to undo the "mistakes" he and the so called South Carolina "JUSTICE" system have made... ALSO HE IS USING HIS COUNTIES MONEY TO COVER UP INTENTIONAL ILLEGAL ACTIONS AGAINST THE DEFENDANT!!! Please let this case LEAVE this county and state and go to a place where there isn't an INJUSTICE system that acts in evil ways.

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  39. Co-erced confessions are without a doubt a huge problem within the justice system. A guilty person will confess to gain noteriety but not after denying guilt so vehemently....600 times or more like Billy. Until someone is in a similar position..you cannot judge. The mind can do funny things when an individual is under extreme emotional duress. Law enforcement is notorious for focusing on primary suspect and deciding the guilt of the person. It is clear that Billy is innocent but sadly no-one wants to admit they screwed up and take the necessary steps to free an unjustly convicted man.

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  40. We all know he's innocent. Now what? Does Billy Cope really have to stay in jail? How do we organize and free this man? Is there anything we can do? As American citizens we can't know about this case, and just let the government lock an innocent man up. Who's to say it won't be us next? Surely this citizens of Rock Hill, SC can stand up and demand he be released. We can't leave an evil man like Kevin Bracket in power. If we can't get an obviosly innocent man freed, we really are powerless. We can't allow this!

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    1. I wonder if there is a defense fund to contribute to?

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    2. Here is a YouTube video from some of the folks working on his appeal. www.youtube.com/watch? v=b4nKk1QOh8A

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  41. The tides of justice should be turned and when he is found not guilty, the prosecuters in this case should pay the same price Billy has been supposedly found guilty of. Life in prison withouth parole to pay for their indescretions in the justice system.Plus repay the state for the cost and emmberssement incurred.

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  42. They need to exhume Ms. Cope's body. The "so-called" nurse should be examined for her "supposedly" care of his wife.

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    1. Exactly! I think it's sketchy and she quite possibly could have killed her. I mean, didn't this woman get in trouble because a patient(s) died under her care?! Something like overdose of insulin?! Plus, she was forging scripts to get the meds for herself. What the **** is going on?! I mean, he and his family were let down by our so-called protectors and officials all the way.

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  43. My god how can the people of South Carolina let this stand it might be you that the good olde boys decide to railroad next.Think about the judge not letting the jury hear about the record of the real rapist and killer and the letter that was a fake come on good olde boys you made a mistake or was it you just thought it would be easy to convict a dim witt.

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  44. I strongly agree with the theory of the so-called nurse.. and Ms. Cope's body being exhumed.. Perhaps look further into life insurance policies and the beneficiaries...
    Change of venue would have made the outcome different..Billy Cope is innocent ...

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  45. I watched this show again tonught and it still amazes me how difuctional this state is...Wow and after this show has aired he is still in prison. My 12 year old was watching and he asked me why did the police spend so much time hammering Cope and they never questioned the real killer. If a 12 year old can see this...what the hell is wrong hear...The DA should just at least once ask the real killer...did Cope assit or ask you to murder. I bet you that he will take 100% guilt and state that he doesnt even know that white man. Oh by the way, I guess Cope helped him rape and do all those other crimes too...because they are best friends right...This story is the worst thing I have ever seen and we should be embarrased that this happened in America. Mr Cope..I wish I could do something for you. It sounds to me, like you never had a chance. The good news is that God will judge you again and you will be free and all those who spent their time lying and covering up their mistakes will also be judged and is will be real hot where they are going. good luck South Carolina...

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  46. Unbelievable - yet totally believable. Police incompetance that cannot be denied or even understood. Shoddy work by the procecutor's office. A judge with no knowledge of basic tenants of the presentation of evidence proven by his disallowing the defense expert witness. And Billy still incarcerated. I hope his appeal in the state, or federal supreme court, will finally reveal the truth without the hillbilly justice displayed by each and every person connected with the prosecution of Mr. Case. They went in as "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and came out looking like Andy and Barney on a bad day in Mayberry RFD. The defense team was the only hope that justice exists in this crappy little county and the corrupt town in which this miscarriage of justice occured.

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  47. First time I saw this program. First, I think if the dad did it, he would have abused her for awhile. So, the home was not neat and clean. I think the other factor was he was a bit on the "chunky" side. Yes, looks and appearances count. Glad, I am not the only one who thinks they should exhume his wife's body.

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  48. I just watch this case on date line and I can not believe that Mr. Cope was found guilty. The judge did not give his lawyers witness a chance to speak and other evidence that could of helped set him free the judge throw it out. I cant believe that the jurors found him guilty. There is so much wrong with this case and the procecutor know it. THEY SENT A INNOCENT MAN TO PRISON FOR THE REST OF HIS LIFE. I HOPE THAT MY COPE GET ANOTHER TRAIL AND IS SET FREE AND SUE THE HELL OUT OF S.C FOR ALL THOSE YEARS HE HAS SPENT IN JAIL FOR SOMETHING HE DID NOT DUE. THE THING THAT GETS ME HIS OWN DAUGHTERS HAS TURNED THEIR BACKS ON THEIR DAD IS BECAUSE OF THE OF PROCECUTOR. THAT WHOLE FAMILY NEEDS JUSTICE

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  49. It just goes to show you never speak to the police if you are a suspect. Demand a lawyer, and take your right to remain silent. Being interrogated for hours isn't something an innocent person should have to endure.

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  50. I Am So Angry...... I Am At A Lost For Words. God Bless This Man.

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  51. Scary, how easily you can be convicted without hard evidence. I think Mr. Cope is not the brightest bulb and was not a providing a good home situation for his children. I can't believe that it was not a hung jury. Where did they find these 12 people?

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  52. i just watched the dateline program and i think its bs that the court system did this there is so much proof that proved he did not do this. i dont know how the judge could dismiss a lot of claims from the attorney that said they were false confessions and did not listen to the other guys prior convictions.and to think how can the jury sleep at night knowing that they put a inasent man away and all this caused him to lose his other children i really think and hope he gets his retrial he deserves it. there is no need for this in our judicial system i

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  53. What kind of moron tries a father with so much evidence proving he did not do it. Also the judge did not let jurors see the crucial evidence at all and threw it out. I hope these people are haunted by their stupidity for the rest of their lives. If you are in the justice system please do whats right and let all evidence be presented so mistakes like this doesnt happen again.

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  54. It would seem that the folks in South Carolina are still railroading their own but this time it's an innocent man who happens to be white. They folks down south had enough practice with the poor blacks for God's sake! As for nurse Amy, does anyone really know if she is culpable in Mr Copes' wife's death, hm I wonder. Why oh why are the powers that be afraid to have this case be reconsidered in a higher court to include all evidence. This is very scary stuff and I'm so thankful that I don't live in South Carolina, trust me I never will!

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  55. I am guessing you didn't hear the part that the guy who raped her said he did not know the father. Or the fact that the prosecutor had a spy go into the defense. Is that ok with you also. And plus the children were shown video of how their father was presented on t.v so I guess your saying that is ok to. I am thinking your the idiot here not us.

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  56. I will never vacation is South Carolina again!!! Vengeance is the Lords and the prosecutor and judge will not go free! They will get what they deserve!!!

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  57. If any of you seen the prosecutors videos he says that dateline worked with the defense intervewing them and not him. How can they if you kept declining the interview in the first place. DUH

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  58. Wow! Loss for words... The arrogance of the prosecution and judge combined with the blatant disregard of Mr. Cole's right to a fair trial leave me with a very shatty feeling in my gut. Sorry for the profanity...still at a loss for words : (

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  59. Julie in CaliforniaJanuary 21, 2012 at 11:59 PM

    The only thing that Billy Wayne Cope is guilty of is being poor, and ignorant. Police and prosecutorial misconduct in this case is criminal. They certainly act guilty of misconduct. They won't cooperate with the media when asking questions. They never considered alternate explanations. They didn't gather all the evidence. Denying civil rights by denying access to his attorney is the most reprehensible.

    I am praying that the Supreme Court will hear this case and provide ultimate justice for Billy Cope. Furthermore, I hope that the result is such a dark indictment of the prosecutors, judge, and investigators that they leave their jobs in shame.

    Please post any links to how to contribute to the defense fund for this man.

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  60. I live in Rock Hill, SC and am competely disgusted by the actions of the prosecuter and judge in this case. I was not a resident of Rock Hill at the time of the trial and have only recently become aware of what happened. I am ashamed to be associated with a town that would let this travesty of justice prevail. I can only pray I never have to be subjected to the Rock Hill judicial system! And shame on the citizens of Rock Hill for letting people like these prosecuters and the judge to continue to practice law.

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  61. The judge and prosecutor both need to be immediately disbarred, the 'nurse' Simmons needs deep investigation not only regarding her history of forgery, but also what happened to Cope's wife while in her care, and the entire police department needs to have Internal Affairs firmly planted up their rectums for a very long time. This whole thing is a complete and total travesty of justice. Ray Charles could've seen how innocent Cope is. Brackett has no jurisdiction after the fact to either be at the interview of the jurors conducted by Dateline, or to record it on video, nor did he have any jurisdiction to have said video camera on hand ready for recording by one of the two jurors who eventually DID agree to a private interview. All that tells me is that Brackett had influence over the jury, and it screams mistrial. Why was Sanders reduced to but a footnote? Why was his DNA not a subject for severe scrutiny? I could go on and on about so many discrepancies about this case. Disgusting.

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  62. wow. Has anyone who commented here actually READ and REVIEWED the legal records????? The phenomenon of false confession is absolutely real but IS NOT THE CASE with Mr. Cope.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Part One
      I did read the entire trial transcript and looked at everything posted by Solicitor Brackett at http://www.billywaynecope.com/. I agree with him that it is ill advised to form an opinion as to a person's guilt based on a television show. My feelings about Mr. Brackett are complicated: I understand his desire to avenge the death of an innocent victim; I also understand and do not doubt the sincerity of his belief that Mr. Cope's confession was not false. In weighing the state's claim that the confession was voluntary and genuine against Mr. Cope's claim that it was coerced and false, the presence of Mr. Sander's DNA, in my opinion, tips the scales decisively in Mr. Cope's favor.

      Many people really don't understand how the presence of Mr. Sander' DNA complicated this case. The presence of trace evidence (DNA) at a crime scene does not tell the entire story. The fact that it is found does not answer the question of when or by whom it was left. The most probable and likely explanation for its presence was that Mr. Sanders left it there when he raped and killed Amanda. Maybe, as attorney Brackett contends, he had the help of Billy Wayne Cope when he did it-neither Cope or Sanders corroborate this theory. Maybe Amanda snuck out of the house earlier in the evening and had sex with Sanders and Cope killed her in rage when he found out about it later. Maybe Billy Wayne Cope found a soiled condom in his travels and used its contents to help stage the crime scene. The point is that DNA evidence is not the be all and end all in a criminal investigation-it is only a starting point.

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    3. Part Two
      I have no reason to doubt that solicitor Brackett was well aware of the fact that each defendant, if tried separately, would probably be acquitted. The DNA evidence of Sanders, if nothing more, raises a reasonable doubt that Cope's confession was not voluntary. If Brackett concluded the confession was false and focused instead on Sanders, Cope's confession would, if nothing more, raises a reasonable doubt as to his guilt. On balance, the case against Cope was stronger than it was against Sanders-not because of the factual guilt of either party but based on the admissible evidence against each.

      While I understand the problems faced by solicitor Brackett, I must take issue with the way he handled these two cases. A prosecutor, as a representative of the government, must do more than pay lip service to the "presumption of innocence". The question is not whether a prosecutor believes a person is guilty but whether there is legally admissible evidence to prove his guilt. If otherwise legally sufficient evidence is of questionable veracity, the public expects the prosecutor to use his wisdom and good judgment to weed out the wheat from the chaff. The rules of conduct and court opinions impose a higher standard on prosecutors than other lawyers because of the esteem in which they held by the community. Sadly, too many prosecutors abuse this trust.

      Where is the evidence of a criminal conspiracy? Attorney Brackett told the jury he did not need to prove these men had ever met before the night Amanda was killed; the fact that they each committed the crime at the same time was conclusive that there was an agreement. This is a facile argument. He argued that there was no evidence of forced entry, This was a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. A hearing was held on the admissibility of the evidence that Mr. Sanders committed rapes in surrounding area. The court held that because of their dissimilarities, they were not admissible. Notwithstanding the correctness of the trial court's ruling, a common factor concerning each of these crimes was that Mr. Sanders had entered each dwelling leaving no signs of forced entry and in some cases committed his crimes unbeknownst to other occupants.

      So, in answer to this question, it is based on my review of the legal records that I came to the reluctant and sad conclusion that solicitor Brackett abused the trust placed in him by the members of his community.

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  63. Wow ... just watched this ... Lets say that Dateline ran a skewed take on this story ... but ... lets say even a fraction or even one piece of evidence of what they said was true? Facts are facts and taking even some of the things that were stated as fact ie no DNA evidence and no link between Sanders and Cope convinces me that the prosecution and police department took extreme liberties here in their attempts to convict this guy. Forget innocence or guilt for a moment ... I literally feel sick that a persons civil rights were trampled upon so cavalierly (in the ambition to form a case for a guilty verdict).

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  64. There is something that people can do in this county ... do not re-elect officials and raise loud and public objections to officials high in rank in the Police Department and Prosecution with explicit direction to this case.

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  65. This article is strikingly similar to what occurred in the West Memphis 3 case. Those of you angry about what you read here MUST see the HBO "Paradise Lost" films and the coming Peter Jackson-produced "West of Memphis". You'll be as angry, or more, about that case. Thankfully the WM3 are now free, and it looks as though there MAY be some hope a new DA will re-open the case to prosecute the person who, most now believe, is responsible for the murders of three 8-year-olds. But that does not change what occurred in 1994 when the prosecutors railroaded them. Thank you Mr. Dooley... I am trying to get in touch with you to discuss your potential interest in being involved in compiling an ethics complaint against the WM3 prosecutors for, as you note in the Cope case, having "divorced themselves from their duty as ministers of justice and chose instead to satisfy the public’s demand for vengeance at the expense of an innocent man and to the detriment of a guilty one."

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    1. "divorced themselves from their duty as ministers of justice and chose instead to satisfy the public’s demand for vengeance at the expense of an innocent man and to the detriment of a guilty one."

      ... this say's it all.

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  66. Excerpts from prosecutors' closing arguments in the West Memphis 3 murder case:


    http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/davisclosingjm.html

    "what I wanna do is try to boil it down to what really the issue in this case is. And I think it's something that Mr. Stidham is nearly afraid to articulate. Because what their whole premise for their case is, is that their client lied, and he's a liar, and the police are liars because they won't tell you what happened when he was being interrogated. And as a result, you should throw a confession out the window and find the defendant not guilty. And that's his case. Now he tries to couch it in different terms, and put it in a different form or fashion, but that's what it boils down to.

    Personally, I find it repugnant with this evidence that Mr. Stidham would make such allegations. It is the first time in my career that I've had to stand up here and deal with a defense attorney claiming that his client lied."

    http://callahan.8k.com/wm3/ebtrial/closefogleman.html

    ".I understood him to say that belief systems were not a motive for murder. Talked about somebody standing over saying "hail mary" ten times or something before they kill somebody saying was that a Christian murder? I don't care what the belief system is. Look at history. Look at hundreds of years of religious history. There have been hundreds of people killed in the name of religion. It is a motivating force. It gives people who want to do evil, want to commit murders, a reason to do what they're doing. For themselves, it gives them a reason--a justification for what they do."

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  68. Google 'Kenzi Snider' and read about how she was tricked and coerced into a false confession. Read also on the topic of false confession in Wikipedia.
    I think false confession happens under the threat of death penalty if found guilty and he doesn't confess. The interrogation almost always happens in a prolonged manner and extreme discomfort.

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  69. After watching the dateline episode on this case, I felt I knew Billy Wayne Cope was an innocent man. Even after reading the actual autopsy report I still believed he was not guily for the murder of Amanda Cope. However, the autopsy report also found substantial evidence of prior, horrific sexual abuse. Abuse that had been happening for quite some time, way before being attacked by Sanders. So do I think Billy Wayne killed Amanda? No. But could he be guilty of prior sexual abuse? Absolutely. We cannot completely assume he is an innocent man. As for the Rock Hill police, they did damage potential evidence that could have changed the course of the case. Being a former resident of Rock Hill, South Carolina, I've seen first hand just how negligent the police force is. My father-in-law was in a terrible car accident a few years ago, in which two officers witnessed. Even after 20 whole minutes, they made no call for an ambulance and instead let him die on the scene (a passing motorist saw the accident and called for help). They also arrested my sister-in-law after she called 911 because she had been severely beaten by the father of her child. They arrested HER "because she wouldn't stop crying." The father, of course, got a nice pat on the back and was allowed to continue with his night. Therefore, I don't doubt Rock Hill police botched up the crime scene. I believe they were too incompetent to handle something to that nature.

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  70. Is there anything else that South Carolina can do to Mr. Cope?

    The government made him move to a bad neighborhood.
    Someone raped and killed his little girl.
    Someone apparently killed his wife.
    The government put him in prison.
    Someone turned his other children against him.

    Bad news for everyone who made this happen....
    There is a God.

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    1. The prosecutor should have a cat scan to see if there is a brain in there or what's wrong with it.

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  71. He is so innocent, you got to be some sort of a retard to not come to that conclusion on your own! Those jurors are right up there. "The four confessions did it for me". Come on! Those confessions were done in a short period of time and he was practically walked/talked through it. And Nurse Biggums was originally in trouble for killing a patient by overdose of insulin and forging scripts for medications; she needs to be investigated for other possible murders that fall under being a mysterious death. I hope one day there is justice for Mr. Cope and he gets his freedom and the remainder of his family back.

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    1. I'd like to specify whom especially should be looked at more thoroughly is Mr. Cole's wife. Nurse Bigstuff seems the type to crave attention or power, and very well could have Munchhausen By Proxy and forges scripts so she can use the meds for her unsuspecting, trusting victims. That's a theory that seems more plausible than a white father making deals with a black man to rape and murder his 12 yr old daughter. Highly doubtful. Many, many white men have a racist view on black men being intimate with their offspring. Plus, the whole rape/murder scenario is so off-the-wall for such a religious man.

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    2. Also Lab1212, if I remember correctly wasns't Ms. Cope staying with nurse/snitch when she died? It is really strange that she died from a hysterectomy. Women have those everyday. She died after she determined own her own that Billy Wayne was innocent and no one ever determined why. Just thought I would throw that one out there... I wonder if she was buried or cremated. Cremation would not suprise me at this point to cover up cause.

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  72. As I watch more and more of these cases I am struck by how inflammatory some of the evidence is. I think that showing over and over how heinous a crime was has no place in a trial of guilt. Why are these emotive arguments not restricted to the sentencing phase? Shouldn't fairness dictate that we stipulate that yes, there is a dead victim, but how brutally they died really has no bearing on whether the defendant was the one who caused their death? I can't help thinking some of these juries just become so caught up in the horror that they want to punish and forget to really examine the facts.

    And I love how the Prosecutor accuses the defense of just 'paying' for favorable opinions when he has the power of forcible taxation on his side and can pay for basically anything he wants. I tried to help a man I was sure was innocent of murder and the cost of testing evidence the Prosecution had ignored was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Poor guy wound up pleading guilty in Maricopa County, despite the fact that the police clearly and provably lied to the Grand Jury to obtain an indictment (may Joe Arpaio and his minions rot in hell).

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  73. My name is Susan Archie, I am Billy Cope's Sister. I really appreciate all the comments that have been posted to this website. The problem with society today is people like my brother get sent to prison or Death for a crime they didn't committ. The entire story is so hard to believe because no one knows what the police did to Billy as well as us (our family) to get this case started. The Lies we were told, harrassment, false accusations and all the mental curelty that they have caused us. Billy did not get a fair trial and I think the people involved should lose there jobs for what we have been thru. This case is so hard for me to take that I just do not trust the police or the justice system anymore. The court would not let James Sanders past be brought up-the fact that he has been breaking and entering in houses, jobs, company's etc...since 1977. It took me approx. seven hours to read James Sanders profile. After Amanda's Death he raped and tried to rape other women and kill them almost the same way before he was caught for the murder of Amanda. I have read everyone of these cases and read the written testomonies of each one. None of these were allowed in court. I believe that if the police in the surrounding areas could run his DNA thru their system that he may be responsible for alot more crimes. James Sanders was a Professional at what he did. If he could break into a trailer and steal a refrigator by pulling through a window in five minutes, he could get into anyones house. He was a convicted criminal his entire life. I will not make this to long but I can tell you the police were not truthful in what they did and how they did it. The story goes on. At this point I will stop writing but I can tell you that I will never trust the police anymore.... My heart goes out to all the people who have been wrongly convicted and have had to serve time for something they did NOT do. May God Bless each and everyone of you and that you can have peace with our Lord and Savior.

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    1. We are here and we hear you Susan. Do not give up hope and never loose faith. We all know that Saunders is guilty. Kevin Brackett knows it as well, he is just to arrogant to admit when he is wrong. That is why he is screaming so loud. Just like the old saying "The fair maiden doth cry to much". She knows she is wrong, she doesn't want anyone else to think that she is though. That is Kevin Brackett and his entire Prosecution lynch mob.
      As far James Saunders he and everyone else in the world knows that he is guilty of the horrible crime to Amanda. He is the one and only person that did the crime, which came from his own mouth. You know what is amazing here the so called "perpetrator's" are the only ones at this point that have been telling the truth. Not the people that we are suppose to trust to "Protect and Serve" the community. And to have these very same people to harass, intimidate, threaten... yea you have a right not to trust. You actually should be very scared of these people. I think that they are more dangerous to society than some of the people they put away.
      That is why Susan I have faith in my Heavenly Father and I know vindication will be his in the end. That is what always gives me peace. Put it in his hands, let him take care of the matter. He will IF you have faith in him. Try to find some peace in the Father.

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    2. Hi Susan, just want to say a few things. My wife and I watch Dateline tonight with our kids. Never in my life have I ever seen such injustice. If you guys ever get an organized march going we would come down from Eau Claire WI to support you. One other great injustice I see is this. Amy Simmons. I was thinking about that wicked person and came up with something maybe you guys have already thought about maybe not. I believe she killed Billy's wife... without a doubt. What dawned on me was may Billy's wife caught her forging the letters??? Just some food for thought. In any event, GOD is going to free Billy someday. God allowed Billy to be railroaded for his Glory but I believe someday he's going to have Billy FREED for his Glory as well!!! God Bless your entire family!!!

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  74. This case is a great example in my opinion, of how to convict someone who is innocent of a crime. It is mind boggling and down right scary to see the lengths that the prosecutors will go to secure a win for their side. Focus on being objective and to go where the evidence leads should be central and paramount in court cases, so as to neutralize any bias that all people possess ? Also, the judge in my opinion here refused to let evidence in that in my opinion was crutial to the defense. The appeals court initally agreed that something was not right in this case, but mysteriously reversed itself ! It is truly scary that what the average person, such as myself, sees as trusting that the system will get to the real truth, could be making a miscalculation on their behalf. The death penalty should clearly be abolished because, it is becoming clear that many people in prison were wrongly convicted, as evidenced by DNA analysis.

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  75. Boy you want to talk about a double edged sword. The media/internet and world of technology. It is great as it opens up all of these cases to us and allows us to give our point of view, or maybe even better help in some way with something that was not thought of before. On the other side we end up almost as if we are going back to the 16th century witch hunts. It is almost like a mob reaction at times when you see how these things work out.
    Then Mr. Kevin Brackett the County Prosecutor puts up a web site? Why? Really... ask yourself why does a person have to go to such lengths to "clear their name" if they have done nothing wrong? The fact is if you have nothing to cover up or if you do not lie then there is nothing to defend. Right.... well almost. You could not prove that by Billy Wayne Cope. He has every right to be angry as any human could ever be. To go off the deep end, but he hasn't.
    I believe with all my heart that Kevin Brackett does not care about the justice system, this has everything to do with his status and ego.
    As for that disgusting letter that came from his daughter, if it really came from his daughter, is totally uncouth. I cannot imagine it came from a young lady with any kind of decent child rearing since being removed from her Father, if she has no second thoughts about throwing cuss words around like a street thug. Then to publish it for the world, shame on all of you there in S.C. what happened to your morals. Right vs Wrong!!! You are in the bible belt and should act like it. Read the bible again since you like to say as Baptists you follow the Bible... Ten Commandments 1st... and put people in office that are honest, fair and just. Not egocentric people with a good ole boy attitude. It will come back and get you one day. None of us will forget Rock Hill, S.C. But it is not a place that you want to go and take your family to raise. Good Luck and God Bless the ones of you that are left there. I hope that you open your eyes and see, you ears and hear know the truth. Don't turn your back or you are just as bad as the people who prosecuted the innocent.

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  76. Yes, it is possible that that Mr. Cope could've provide a false confession due to coercion or threats. The Dateline show used the NYC jogger incident, but another more recent one could be Amanda Knox. Remaining calm while on the phone is not uncommon, especially who had experience with dealing in stressful situations, ie police officers, military member, EMT, doctors, etc. Finally, why the judge blocked the use of the other guy's past (prior rapes) and possible involved in other rapes around the area baffles me. It sounds to me the police did botch up the investigation and the whole town (maybe even the whole York county) is trying to save face. I mean this has happened before in York County, in Clover (25 mins away) where the wrong man was convicted and the "good old boys" attempted to save face, but in their case, they failed (My spouse is actually from there). Must be a trend in York County!

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  79. I am outraged at this case. The procesuor should be ashamed of himself!

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  80. The same thing here, deleted somehow.. I'll be back!

    The prosecution should be forced to switch places with Mr. Cope.

    I'll make my name and repulsion public as soon as I figure the best outlet.

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  81. Poor Mr. Cope, his trial was full of stupid people starting with the prosecution, jurors, and judge. I hope he gets a new trial but this time with smart people and not zombies.

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  82. To know that cops spent all this time telling him that they knew he did it during the questiioning and taking hours, and still finding the DNA evedince in itself is questioning to anyone. As for how a person reacts when tragedy in there life strikes.... its hard to say....everybody reacts differently, its all psycology, life upbringing, and even job can make a character on that person. I am a CNA and let me just say when my mother got an anuirism I reacted as nurse and not as a daughter, because I went into an automatic nurse mentallity; but i could just as well went into daughter mode and forget all my teachings.....who is to say I reacted normal.....its all in the person, and how their normal way of life has been. Does not mean they care less. Poor man its sad to say that our justice system has holes, and that this can happen to anyone... I wonder if before this life changing event what did he ever do to these people that are called cops, prosecuters, judge, did they just hate him for being him to not investigate as they should have?

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  83. I just watched a repeat of the Dateline show this morning. I have read all the websites and comments thus far. Unless this man is a diagnosed sociopath he didn't murder or rape his daughter that night. There is soo much reasonable doubt that I can't understand how the jury could convict? When I watched the closing arguments I wondered what office the prosecuter was working towards for his political career. How can a person in a government office post a website when the case is still in appeal? I am soo fustrated over the length of time it takes to free an innocent person. How many cases I have heard about where the prosecution refuses to admit they were wrong when handed irrefutable proof. Our legal system needs an overhaul. Egos should not be a part of the system. I am even angrier that these parents weren't given more assistance in 2001 when cps discovered their disgusting living conditions. They put them on probation but did not give them a hand out of the mess (short term housing,(laundry assistance, etc.)Teach them how to be better parents. No one lives like that on purpose, they are either mentally or emotionally ill, or they can't afford to fix it. It is hard for me to say whether or not Mr Cope ever molested his daughter/s, (only him and God know for sure), but the reasonable doubt is overwhelming when presented the facts of whether or not he co-conspired with the evil James Sanders to rape & kill his 12 yr old daughter. Shame on the SC Supreme Court for dragging their feet. Hopefully when he gets out & sues he'll win enough to retire in peace. I hope someone is investigating Mrs Cope's suspicious death.

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  84. The man is innocent of killing his daughter!! He may not be the brightest crayon in the box, but he did not kill his daughter! That "Friend" that was working for the prosecution probably even killed Copes wife. What a total miscarriage of JUSTICE

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