Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday he pardoned a Chicago man who former Gov. Mike Pence denied a pardon just before leaving office.
Keith Cooper was sentenced to 40 years in prison for a 1996 robbery in Elkhart in which a teenager was shot. The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned his co-defendant’s conviction in 2005, and Cooper was given the choice of being released with a felony record or facing a new trial. He chose to be released.
“My decision is based on a review of the facts,” Holcomb said in a statement. “Keith Cooper has waited long enough and is deserving of a pardon.”
The Indiana Parole Board unanimously recommended that a pardon be issued, but Pence denied Cooper’s pardon request last September, saying he would first have to exhaust all options in court.
Holcomb’s announcement says all eye witnesses in the case have recanted their testimony and DNA evidence does not implicate Cooper in the crime.
The pardon covers only the felony robbery conviction, not a separate felony battery charge. Cooper also requested a pardon for that charge, but did not claim innocence.
A court had granted Cooper a hearing to request a new trial. That hearing was scheduled for March 23.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.