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Pope Urges Clemency for Murderer, 18

September 27, 1987|Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Pope John Paul II has urged that clemency be granted to 18-year-old Death Row inmate Paula Cooper, who was convicted of stabbing to death an elderly Bible teacher.

A statement issued Saturday by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro said: "The Holy See and the Holy Father, through confidential channels, have already made known their point of view in favor of obtaining pardon for Paula Cooper, stressing the human and humanitarian aspects of the case."

The announcement followed reports earlier in the week that the pontiff might have interceded on Cooper's behalf either during his meeting with Vice President George Bush in Detroit or through the Indianapolis archbishop, Msgr. Edward O'Meara.

Dollyne Pettingill, Gov. Robert D. Orr's press secretary, said the governor had not received a letter or direct communication from the pontiff.

Cooper was sentenced to death last July for the 1985 stabbing death of Ruth Pelke during a robbery at the 78-year-old Bible teacher's Gary home.

No execution date has been set, and the case is on appeal before the Indiana Supreme Court.

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