“Dateline NBC” will air a two-hour documentary this Friday (July 9) that focuses on the case of Billy Wayne Cope, who was convicted of killing his daughter in 2001. Although subsequent DNA evidence suggested that he was innocent, Cope was eventually sentenced to life in prison based, in part, on a confession he gave during an interrogation.
Members of the Virginia Capital Case Clearinghouse (VC3) at Washington and Lee School of Law have worked on the case for the past four years, along with the Northwestern Wrongful Convictions Clinic. VC3 Director David Bruck argued the first appeal of Cope’s conviction. In addition, W&L alumni Laura Hastay ’06L, Dawn Davison ’07L, Tim Gilbert ’09L, Christine Kidwell ’09L, Phil Glenn ’10L and Benton Keatley ’10L all worked on the case during their time in VC3.
Bruck was interviewed by “Dateline,” which has been working on the story for more than eight years.
One of the most comprehensive stories about the case and the W&L connection was written by journalism major Stephanie Hardiman, who graduated in May. Stephanie reported the story for a 2008 edition of Rockbridge Report. You can read Stephanie’s account online before tuning in to the “Dateline” report on Friday night.