In a matter of weeks, a California man may be executed for a murder that he did not commit, even though his innocence has been pronounced by five federal judges who heard his appeal, saying, “There is no way to say this politely. The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing. The district court impeded and obstructed Cooper’s attorneys at every turn. [T]he court imposed unreasonable conditions, refused discovery that should have been available as a matter of course; limited testimony that should not have been limited; and found facts unreasonably, based on a truncated and distorted record. Public confidence in the proper administration of the death penalty depends on the integrity of the process followed by the state. … So far as due process is concerned, twenty-four years of flawed proceedings are as good as no proceedings at all.” The judges found that the prosecution and the Sheriff’s office destroyed, tampered with and hid from the defense significant evidence that the jury never heard. Finally, in a damning statement the judges wrote, “The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man.”
Death row inmate Kevin Cooper is up for execution in California for a brutal murder that occurred in 1983. Cooper was sentenced to death in 1985 for the brutal murder of a family in the Chino Hills suburb of Los Angeles. Police contend that Cooper killed Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and 10-year-old Chris Hughes, who was staying with the family the night of the murders. There was one survivor, a then 8-year-old Josh Ryen who had his throat cut and was left for dead. When Josh Ryen recovered from his injuries, he stated that it was three white or Hispanic men that attacked and killed his family and that Cooper was not involved. This started a chain of events that reveal a 30 year cover up and blatant falsification of evidence by police and the prosecutor’s office in San Bernadino County.
In 2015, Cooper’s case was the subject of an episode CNN’s Death Row Stories. In that episode, surprising evidence and statements from those involved with the case show that Cooper should be freed.
Copper’s execution is scheduled for this month.