DNA proved that a complete stranger, a serial lone wolf sexual predator raped and killed Billy Wayne Cope’s daughter. But a jury convicted Cope even though his coerced confession never named the true perpetrator — James Earl Sanders.
Cope and Sanders never met. And why would they? Cope was an obese, loner, who lived at home in Rock Hill with his wife and three daughters and was active in a local evangelical church. Sanders was a black, recently released criminal from NC who in the span of six weeks attempted to assault or assaulted five women, including Amanda Cope who he also murdered.
The idea sold to this jury — that Cope conspired with Sanders and pimped out his own daughter to him — is so absurd that no right-thinking person could believe it.
But 12 jurors in SC did and two SC courts affirmed their decision. Hopefully, his new post-conviction lawyers can right this wrong before going to federal court.
On 9th February, Billy died before he could be exonerated.