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Way To Go Former death-row inmate commits suicide

A woman who spent most of her on death row has killed herself two years after she was released.

  • Published:
The fatal Paula Cooper play

The fatal Paula Cooper

(Huffington Post)

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An Indiana, USA woman, Paula Cooper who spent most of life on death-row and was only released two years ago, has been found dead outside a residence with gun shot wounds in Indianapolis in what authorities say is an apparent suicide, reports Huffington Post.

According to police records, the 45-year-old Cooper was only 16-years-old when she was sentenced to death in 1986 after confessing to her role in the murder of a 78-year-old Gary Bible studies teacher the year before.

Cooper had admitted stabbing 78-year-old Ruth Pelke 33 times with a 12-inch butcher knife in a robbery that netted four youths $10 and an old car. Cooper was 15 at the time the crime was committed and a year later, she was sentenced to death, making her the youngest woman on death-row. But she was released from prison about two years ago, after the Indiana Supreme Court set aside her death sentence and gave her a 60-year prison term.

Her death sentence had enraged human rights activists in the US and Europe and drew a plea for clemency from Pope John Paul II.

In 1988, a priest delivered a petition to Indianapolis with more than 2 million signatures protesting Cooper's sentence.

Two years after Cooper was sentenced to death, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an unrelated case that those under 16 at the time of an offense couldn't receive the death penalty. The court said such sentences were cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional.

Indiana lawmakers later passed a law raising the minimum age limit for execution from 10 years to 16, and in 1988, the state's high court set aside Cooper's death sentence and ordered her to serve 60 years in prison.

Cooper's sentence was reduced due to her behavior in prison, where she earned a bachelor's degree. She was released from prison on June 17, 2013, after spending 28 years behind bars.

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