Innocent Man Released From Prison after 11 yrs. November 14, 2001
By LARRY O'DELL, Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A man was freed Wednesday
after serving 11 years in prison for a murder authorities now say he didn't
Jeffrey Cox, 33, and
his parents, sitting two rows behind him in a Richmond courtroom, shed
tears of joy as Circuit Judge Walter W. Stout dismissed the charges against
him. ``It's been a long struggle,'' Cox told reporters afterward. ``It's
a beautiful day, and I can't wait to walk out of here.'' Cox was
sentenced to life plus 50 years in prison for the 1990 stabbing death of
63-year-old Ilouise Cooper. He insisted he was innocent, but was convicted,
largely on the testimony of two of Cooper's neighbors, who said Cox and
another man dragged her from her apartment. In May, Stephen Hood
was charged with Cooper's death. Court papers say a witness told investigators
that Hood and another man, who has not been charged, killed Cooper.
Prosecutors, who could have sought to retry Cox, instead asked Stout to
throw out the original indictments, which he did at Wednesday's hearing.
Outside of court, Cox celebrated with about 30 friends and relatives wearing
yellow ribbons. ``This is the happiest moment of my life,'' said
his mother, Pat Cox. ``I never gave up hope.''