David Black has now spent a full quarter century in federal prison for a crime he did not commit. On a cool Sunday afternoon in February of 1997, Alice Chow, an elderly Chinese-American woman was gunned down on the 400 block of K Street in Washington DC. Investigators had no witnesses to the crime, but the public outcry was so strong, that a killer had to be apprehended. It was assumed that Ms. Chow was killed by a bullet intended for someone else. Street witnesses said they saw a man running and heard shots. Working on this scant information, the police started searching for a runner and a shooter. This tragic case shows how flawed assumptions can take an investigation off the rails. You can find the basic information, with links to all six posts written thus far, here.
This is the story of how a rural Texas county transformed a shockingly weak case into a popularity contest. When the evidence was silenced it was just a question of who the jury trusted more: a popular lawman, or a convicted felon. Defense attorneys called no witnesses and refused to put the defendant on the stand. Allowed to testify, Shaun Cooks would have accused law enforcement of planting and tampering with evidence. In Milam County, nobody is allowed to question the police. If defense attorneys can’t do it, defendants certainly can’t. Friends of Justice has dedicated over a dozen columns to this vexed case.
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