After smoking marijuana and drinking wine, ... went to the home of Bible teacher Ruth Pelke, 78, armed with a knife. Cooper struck Pelke with a vase, cut her arms and legs, then stabbed her in the chest and stomach 33 times, according to Indiana court records.Cooper was 16 at the time, and was sentenced to death by a judge known to be opposed to capital punishment.After 27 years in prison, Cooper left prison today.
Ms. Cooper first benefited from a SCOTUS opinion that executing juveniles somehow violated the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments, and then:
Indiana legislators passed a state law raising the minimum age limit for execution from 10 years to 16, and in 1988, the state's high court set Cooper's death sentence aside.
Instead, she was ordered to serve 60 years in prison. This was later reduced due to her behaviour in jail, where she earned a bachelor's degree.