(CBS) — Indiana’s new governor has pardoned a Chicago man who was wrongly convicted of armed robbery.
CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.
It has taken Keith Cooper 20 years to clear his name.
“I feel like a thousand pound weight just lifted off my chest,” he said.
Cooper’s fight started in 1997 when he was a husband and father of three. He was living in Elkhart, Indiana when he was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for armed robbery.
Cooper tearfully asked then-Governor, now U.S. Vice President Mike Pence to pardon him in 2014. His request came after he had been released from prison because of new evidence. There were accusations of a dirty cop involved in his case. A victim even admitted she was never sure Cooper was the culprit.
“I never saw my kids grow up,” he said.
Pence denied the pardon. Cooper’s lawyers eventually reintroduced it to new State Governor Eric Holcomb, who issued the pardon for his wrongful felony conviction. Cooper’s record will be cleared of the felony.
“I want to give him a hug. I want to tell him he gave me my life back,” said Cooper.
Cooper said he didn’t have any comment on the new vice president of the United States. However, his attorney did.
“Governor Pence deliberately ignored Keith Cooper’s pardon petition because he knew it would not be politically palatable for the presidential campaign,” he said.
Cooper now lives and works in the Chicago area with his family. He intends to file a lawsuit pertaining to his case.
“Now I’m known as Mr. Keith Cooper, not number DOC#975234 anymore,” he said.