PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 51/194/99
2 December 1999
Further information on EXTRA 152/99 (AMR 51/175/99, 29 October 1999) and
follow-up (AMR 51/187/99, 19 November) - Death penalty / Legal concern
USA (Oklahoma)Cornel Cooks, aged 43
Cornel Cooks was executed as scheduled in the first few minutes of 2 December
1999 in Oklahoma State Penitentiary. He had been sentenced to death in 1983
for the rape and murder of 87-year-old Jennie Ridling at her home in Lawton,
in October 1982.
Cornel Cooks became the 90
prisoner to be executed in the USA this year, the
highest annual total since 1951. A total of 590 condemned prisoners have now
been put to death nationwide since the USA resumed executions in 1977.
Amnesty International has expressed its concerns about aspects of the state’s
handling of Cornel Cooks’ 16 November clemency hearing, at which clemency was
rejected by all five members of the Pardon and Parole Board (see Open letter
to Assistant Attorney General Humes, Oklahoma, USA, AMR 51/193/99, 2 December
1999). During the hearing the Assistant Attorney General argued against clemency
for Cornel Cooks by referring to the cases of prisoners yet to come before
the Board. Amnesty International believes that his comments undermined the
possibility that the hearing could be a genuinely individualized appeal for
clemency based on the specific aspects of Cornel Cooks’ case. The Assistant
Attorney General also complained about international appeals for clemency for
On 1 December, the local newspaper, the Oklahoman, reported that among the
letters to the Governor appealing for clemency was a letter “from 17 members
of the German federal parliament”.
No further action by the UA Network is requested. Many thanks to all who sent
appeals on behalf of Cornel Cooks.