By Josh Thompson
With claims of racial bias, police misconduct, evidence tampering and poor-quality defense counsel, the president of the American Bar Association sent Gov. Brown a letter Monday asking for clemency for convicted murderer Kevin Cooper in the slaying of four people in Chino Hills more than 30 years ago.
Mr. Cooper sits on death row in San Quentin State Prison. He was convicted two years after the 1983 murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and neighbor Chris Hughes, 11. The Ryen’s 8-year-old son Joshua survived the attack despite a slashed throat.
Paulette Brown wrote the letter asking the governor for an executive reprieve for Mr. Cooper “so that there can be an investigation to fully evaluate his guilt or innocence.”
“We recommend that this investigation include testing of forensic evidence still available to be analyzed to put to rest the questions that continue to plague his death sentence. This is the only course of action that can ensure that Mr. Cooper receives due process and the protection of his rights under the Constitution,” Mrs. Brown wrote.
Gov. Brown had not commented on the letter by Champion press time Friday.
Four months ago, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an earlier court ruling declaring California’s death penalty unconstitutional, giving the state the right to continue executions.
A clemency petition for Mr. Cooper was filed in February.
In the years since the murders, evidence has emerged that casts doubt Mr. Cooper’s conviction, evidence that has not been comprehensively examined in court, Mrs. Brown wrote.
She admitted that only a small percentage of questions have gone unanswered in Mr. Cooper’s case, but asked the governor to ensure a full investigation before an execution is scheduled.