The State Of California seems poised to execute death-row inmate Kevin Cooper for first-degree murder charges, despite defense attorneys having convinced judges overseeing the case of his innocence.
The brutal murder of a family in Chino Hills, an affluent suburb of Los Angeles, outraged the public and prompted an immediate demand of the death penalty.
Cooper, who had escaped a minimum security prison in the area, was hiding out at a nearby home when the murder happened, making him the chief suspect in the case.
The police claimed that Cooper killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, along with their 10-year old daughter and her friend Chris Hughes, who was also 10 and staying with the family. Josh Ryen, 8 years old at the time, was also attacked yet managed to survive after many months in recovery.
Upon recovery, Josh Ryen said that the actual culprits were three Caucasian or Latino men, and definitely not a single black man.
Forensic evidence later proved that the unidentified blood at the crime scene did not in fact belong to Cooper. Instead, it contained the DNA of two different people – corroborating Ryen’s story.
Shortly after San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department told the public that an African American man was being held as a suspect, someone hung a stuffed monkey outside of the courthouse, along with a sign that said “Kill the N*****!”
Cooper’s conviction on the murder charges was later appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court.
His conviction was upheld even though five of the federal judges issued a passionate 103 page dissenting opinion.
In this particular case, the dissenting opinion had little to do with burden of proof, but everything to do with an admission that the prosecution in collaboration with local law enforcement had deliberately destroyed, tampered, subverted, and concealed critical pieces of evidence that were never heard by the jury, evidence which likely would have resulted in Mr. Cooper’s exoneration.
Click here to demand that Governor Jerry Brown grant clemency to Kevin Cooper.