FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 03, 2016


Media Contact: Curtis T. Hill, Jr. (574) 296-1888

The Office of the Elkhart County Prosecuting Attorney is committed to justice and Due Process of law.

Keith Cooper was released from prison in 2006 following a hearing on his motion to modify his sentence stemming from his 1997 conviction for Robbery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury.

Recent media reports have characterized Cooper's 1997 robbery conviction as a "wrongful conviction" and suggest that Cooper is “innocent” and/or has been “exonerated”. Cooper is certainly free to proclaim his innocence. However, to date, there has been no judicial determination that he is “innocent” or “exonerated” regarding his 1997 conviction.

According to the record of proceedings, Cooper was charged in 1997 with Attempted Murder and Robbery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury. Cooper was subsequently found not guilty of Attempted Murder and guilty of Robbery Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison. On December 3, 1998, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction. In September 1999, Cooper challenged his conviction by filing a petition in the Elkhart Circuit Court requesting that his conviction be overturned.

In 2004, Cooper presented evidence in the Circuit Court which included challenges regarding DNA and witness credibility, from the 1997 trial. He argued that the evidence against him was insufficient and his counsel was ineffective. He presented evidence for two days. Cooper then requested that the court defer its ruling and give him more time to produce more evidence. The court deferred its ruling. On March 1, 2005, Cooper submitted additional evidence for the court’s further consideration.

Cooper later advised the court that he had no further evidence to present. He then asked the court to rule on his Petition. However, on April 27, 2006, rather than allow the court to rule on his Petition, He changed his mind. Cooper instead asked the court to modify or change his sentence on his robbery conviction. He proposed that his forty (40) year sentence be reduced to time served. At the time Cooper made the request for time served, he had served approximately ten (10) years on the robbery conviction. Cooper’s proposal was made with the advice of his legal counsel. The court granted his request without objection and Cooper was immediately released from prison. On that same day, Cooper voluntarily withdrew his Petition for Post-Conviction Relief. Thus, he ended his claim of innocence.

Mr. Cooper had the right to challenge his conviction in court, and in fact, did so. However, rather than allowing the court to act on his challenge and determine the sufficiency of the evidence used to convict him, he chose to request that his sentence for the crime be reduced, which it was. Cooper and others now refer to his “innocence”. However, the state of the judicial record and facts are to the contrary. The record reveals that in 1997 he was convicted of robbery. In 1998, his conviction was affirmed by the Indiana Court of Appeals. In 2006, his conviction was further confirmed by his proposed and agreed modification of his sentence which resulted in the withdrawal of his challenge to the conviction. Cooper’s legal status in this case, remains the same to this day.

Since withdrawing his Petition in 2006, Cooper had not filed, with the court, any additional legal challenges to his conviction or his modification of sentence. Rather, he chose to seek a pardon from the Governor, as is his right to do so. Although Cooper claims to have been “exonerated”, no ruling or legal determination has been made to that effect. At his request, the court never ruled on his evidence and he withdrew his claim of innocence.

Many characterizations and representations are being made through the media which, to my knowledge, have not been properly or fully adjudicated in an appropriate forum. While some of the characterizations and representations on the evidence might be proven to be accurate, the fact remains that, to date, there has been no such judicial determination.

As Cooper has now filed an additional Petition for Post Conviction Relief before the court, it is the responsibility of my office to review the matter, defend the record, and seek Due Process for Cooper as well as the citizens of the State of Indiana in accordance with the Indiana Rules of Procedure.

As this matter is currently pending in the Elkhart Circuit Court, further information on these matters will be addressed within the pleadings and proceedings in court.


“Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”