Woman Sentenced to Death at 16 in Murder of Bible Study Teacher Goes Free

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paula-cooperIn 1986, Paula Cooper was just 16 years old when she became the youngest person on death row in the United States.

On Monday, after 27 years behind bars, Cooper walked out of Indiana’s Rockville Correctional Facility a free woman.

Cooper had an unlikely ally supporting her release: Bill Pelke, the grandson of the woman she killed.

The events started when Cooper was 15 and devised a plan to steal money with her friends.

After smoking marijuana and drinking wine, they went to the home of Bible teacher Ruth Pelke, 78, armed with a knife.

ruth-PelkeCooper 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.

Their loot? Just $10.

The Indiana Supreme Court set Cooper’s death sentence aside in 1988 and ordered her to serve 60 years in prison.

Click here to read the full story on CNN.com.


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  • rahrah1

    Less than half her sentence was served after it was changed to 60 years. That's horrible. Nasty evil woman deserves to have her miserable life spent in prison. I seriously doubt there is any rehabilitation for someone who stabs an elderly person that many times for a lousy $10 or even a cool mil

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