Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Disheartening Story

In today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof tells the story of the upcoming execution of Kevin Cooper. Despite the fact that a number of federal judges have declared that Cooper was framed by police in California, and despite the evidence that someone else committed the murders for which Cooper is supposed to die, the state-run machinery of death plows on.

This is a compelling story that I am sure some readers will dismiss as "liberal" nonsense. (No doubt, Ann Coulter believes Cooper is guilty because, well, a jury convicted him, and everyone knows that prosecutors always tell the truth.)

In my view, however, this goes well beyond the guilt or innocence of one man, or even the merits or demerits of state-sponsored executions. It goes beyond the race of the victims and Cooper's race. (The victims were white and Cooper is black.)

All of these are the platforms from which political groups operate, but there is something much more important than political victories and losses, and that is Truth itself. We finally have reached the era in the United States in which truth is irrelevant.

When Duke University fired lacrosse coach Mike Pressler in 2006 after three of his players were falsely accused of raping an African-American prostitute, the then-AD of Duke, Joe Alleva (who now is at LSU), declared emphatically, "It's not about the truth." Instead, it was about the political situation, and he decided that politics trumps truth, and the president of Duke, Richard Brodhead, supported Alleva's decision.

Duke University has the motto "Eruditio et Religio," which means "sanctified knowledge." In the lacrosse case, Duke mirrored the rest of American society when its leadership sought out a lie in place of the truth, all the while claiming that the lies they were telling were sanctified.

So, if Cooper is put to death, then we can say once again that political victories mean more to Americans than does the truth. No civilization can stand upon the sandy foundations of lies, and we are going to find out the hard way that "American Exceptionalism" does not mean that Americans are excused from the consequences of the lie.


Anonymous said...

Email Governor Schwarzenegger to petition for a pardon:

(Select "Pardon request" from the subject menu)

Kerwyn said...

I also suggest you start a tweet campaign

liberranter said...

Anonymous 7:25 and Kerwyn:

A solid suggestion, but one wonders whether the Lameduckenator cares enough at this point to do anything.

William L. Anderson said...

Yeah, I guess he is not the Governator for nothing.

If prosecutors and politicians are so nihilistic and so jaded that they really don't care who committed a crime just as long as they can kill someone, then we don't have rule of law.

liberranter said...

If prosecutors and politicians are so nihilistic and so jaded that they really don't care who committed a crime just as long as they can kill someone, then we don't have rule of law.

I suppose this creates a sort of perverse "silver lining" to the whole sordid Kevin Cooper affair. "Judicial" murder of an innocent should do more to completely destroy, once and for all, what little misguided faith remains in this rotten, criminal system than any other event I can imagine.

Kerwyn said...

I am not (or was not) against the death penalty. My issue revolves around what constitutes "proof".

We have now seen so many people who were innocent being released from years of imprisonment after being convicted with "proof".

There must be irrefutable proof not "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" for me to put a man to death.

In this case there are so very many unanswered questions, police fumbling of evidence and what looks like flat misconduct.

I could not put him to death knowing what I know and of course the jurors are never told the little sordid details that eventually come out of trials such as this.

This would be a travesty of justice. Texas has already executed an innocent man will California follow?

Anonymous said...

"There must be irrefutable proof". If that were the burden then there would be very few criminals in jail.

Let the saint go: "Cooper escaped from the minimum security prison in Chino. Cooper had been serving a sentence for two residential burglaries in Los Angeles. One year earlier, he had left Pennsylvania where he had been suspected of the assault and rape of a teen-aged girl who had interrupted him as he was burglarizing her home."

Later that day, bloodstained items were found in the vacant house where Cooper had stayed, including a button from a prison jacket identical to the one he was wearing when he escaped. A police criminologist also found evidence of blood on the carpet, in the bathroom sink and in the shower along with Cooper's footprint. Hairs from the shower drain and the bathroom sink were consistent with those from two of the victims.

"A bloodstained hatchet from the vacant house was later found near the Ryen home. The sheath from the hatchet was found on the floor of the bedroom where Cooper had slept. Some hunting knives and at least one ice pick were also missing from the vacant house. A strap fitting one of the missing knives was found in the same bedroom. Shoe prints were found in the Ryen home and the vacant house next door matching the unique pattern of shoes issued exclusively to prison inmates. The prints indicated shoes of Cooper's size and brand that he had recently received in prison."

"Two days after the murders, Cooper befriended a couple in Mexico and joined them on a boat trip up the California Coast. Weeks later, Cooper was arrested on a boat off of Santa Barbara after the woman reported that he had raped her at knife point, threatening to kill her if she woke her husband."

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

Anonymous @ 12/11/10 12:19 PM:

Perhaps you'd like to cite the source that you're quoting.

Also, please note that Kerwyn was talking specifically about the death penalty. By implying that she was talking about requiring irrefutable proof for all criminal charges, you are knocking down a straw man. Are you doing so deliberately?

Anonymous said...

Here's the link Rob.

You can't change the burden of proof for one type of crime without changing it for all. The questions in this case were answered at trial and at all levels of the appeals process.

Rob said...

Anonymous @ 12/11/10 9:11 PM:

Thanks for the link. Why didn't you include it to begin with? Did you expect us to treat the quoted material as authoritative based merely on faith?

For everyone else, here's the actual link:

"You can't change the burden of proof for one type of crime without changing it for all." Why is that? What is your reasoning there? No, I won't accept a mere assertion here.

"The questions in this case were answered at trial and at all levels of the appeals process." Did you read the New York Times article? Perhaps you're rejecting it outright. If so, why? It would seem to cast doubt on the story put forth in your link.

By the way, I notice that your link does not contain any source citations for its claims. Why not?

For the record, let me note that I am opposed to the death penalty.

Kerwyn said...

For some unknown reason, any post I make on this topic is being deleted and not by myself.

Read the brief. I have grave concerns given that multiple Donor DNA was found in the tube of blood drawn by the police. This can only indicate that the tube has been contaminated with someone else's blood intentionally. The prosecution also claims that "all" the blood in that tube is now gone for testing which is frankly BS. The amount of blood drawn in a Red top tube is not only adequate for hundreds of samples, but there will be a large supply left over.

The charts presented with the EDTA and DNA findings in supposedly "control" items indicate a large scale contamination of the evidence which could only have occurred while in police custody.

I have far more to say on this from a scientific point but will run out of space.

Kerwyn said...

To Anon, Part 2

I personally believe most prosecutors have an external agenda that has zero to do with seeing justice done and everything to do with their own advancement. An advancement that is frequently bought on the backs of innocent folks who are railroaded either by incompetent council, unethical police, unethical prosecutors and ignorant jurors.

Yes there are criminals and the bastards deserve all they get, but in that zeal we must protect the innocent. If we don't, we become no better than the "criminals" we accuse so many others of being.

Please read the court brief.

This document raises some grave concerns about the chain of evidence and what appears to be blatant contamination of evidence and evidence tampering. The scientific evidence alone would cause me to NOT let this death case go forward. The presence of this much EDTA in any sample can only indicate that the blood came from a preserved source, ie the vial that has been in police custody from the beginning.

Kerwyn said...

grrrrrrr Part 1

To Anon,

You posted an interesting url. This organization is pro death penalty among other things and does not reference the data gathered for their opinions. Dr. Anderson posted a link to a dissenting judge's opinion who seemingly heard differing evidence than the organization you linked presented.
That being said, my comment is in regard to the death penalty.

In the zealous search for convictions, we on this blog have seen numerous people accused of horrible crimes by over zealous prosecutors and police only to have it shown they are not only innocent beyond a reasonable doubt, but irrefutably innocent.
The death penalty has been shown to have NO IMPACT (yes read that again) on deterring crime. As a matter of point, the USA incarcerates more people per capita than any other country in the world. Do we actually have that many criminals walking among us? Is our population that sick?
Are there reasons for putting someone to death. For me personally, yes. But as I stated before, I would have to have irrefutable evidence first. NOT the evidence just the prosecution wants me to know, or presented in just this way. The same goes for the defense evidence. I want to see it all, every single last scrap of data. Then and only then would I condemn a person to death.

William L. Anderson said...

What the anonymous commenter is saying is that because Cooper is a bad egg, he committed the murder. However, as Kerwyn has pointed out, the blood samples were contaminated, and there seems to be serious evidence of planting "evidence."

On this blog, I believe that a person should actually be guilty of the crime for which he or she is charged, as opposed to someone WANTING the person to be guilty for whatever reason.

Once upon a time, I supported capital punishment, but after seeing how both state and federal prosecutors operate, I no longer can support it in this country. Because authorities no longer care about the truth or right or wrong, I do not want them to have the power to kill anyone.

Anonymous said...

This guy is guilty and should be put to death. He was convicted in 1985. Appeals in 1991. 1996, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009 were upheld and the Supreme Court has refused to hear the case. I don't know what more you want. You continually throw out how crooked prosecutors are but fail to show any wrong doing by the lawyers on the defense side.

""You can only put forward only so many crazy theories," said Mary Ann Hughes, 58. "All of them proved to have no basis." The mother of Chris Hughes said Tuesday that she thought the decision "puts the case on the home stretch, even if we have appeals."" Tell this woman she is wrong in her belief that this guy is guilty and she'll tell you he is 100% guilty.

She and her husband, Bill, director of Cal Poly Pomona's equine sciences program, still live in the Chino Hills home they occupied "when it happened." Chris, she said, would have turned 36 next week.

Rob said...

Anonymous @ 12/13/10 1:21 AM:

Once again, you fail to cite the source that you're quoting. Why is that?

"Tell this woman she is wrong in her belief that this guy is guilty and she'll tell you he is 100% guilty."

So what? Are we to simply roll over and accept that he's guilty because the mother of one of the victims believes he's guilty?

You're not refuting any of our arguments. You're simply repeating the same bare assertions. What's your deal? Do you think this is going to intimidate us?

Guess again.

Kerwyn said...


Yes it is true that we expose crooked prosecutors and cops, but we do so only after we have seen, pardon me, irrefutable proof. We don't do it on supposition or the word of a few people. We actually research, document, document again and document again.

I understand his appeals have been denied. I stated to you what concerns I have based on the scientific evidence presented. I did not take into account eye witness testimony since I have not read it myself.

But be aware that police who destroy items of evidence, destroy their hand written notes, have contaminated evidence, ect simply cause me to perk up and start asking extremely hard questions. The very fact that the Tshirt in question was tested by different labs and had EDTA as well as DNA present in supposedly "control" samples is extremely troubling. The fact the prosecution claimed that "all" the blood taken is now "used up" is silly. Unless it was used for more than DNA matching.

As I have pointed out. I did not say this man was innocent, I said there are far too many unanswered questions for me to put him to death.

Remember, my unanswered questions are not those done in the legal machinations of a court room, rather they are the questions asked by intelligent people who want to actually know the truth. That means every single fact is scrubbed in the light of reason. Then and only then will I make a decision. I will not make a judgement based on a pro death penalty group, nor will I make on based on an anti death penalty group. I shall do it for myself...

William L. Anderson said...

To put what the anonymous has said in a nutshell, it is this: "The system says he is guilty, so he is guilty."

There is a huge stretch between the "system" and the truth. When I see tainted blood at the site, I really have to ask what has happened.

Appeals mean absolutely nothing in our system today. Are you saying that appeals courts always get it right?

In the Amirault case in Massachusetts, the state's supreme court ruled that while there was evidence of innocence -- real evidence -- in the interest of "finality," the court was denying any relief.

Yes, the courts and prosecutors love "finality." It is their statement that whatever errors they make, whatever lies they tell are irrelevant.

Doc Ellis 124 said...

Shared at BoN and FaceBook, MySpace, and LinkedIn.

Thank you for writing this.

Doc Ellis 124

Anonymous said...

I know I'm a little late coming in on this, but I agree completely with Kerwyn. I want the whole truth from both sides. I am pro-death penalty, but I do not see how they can put this man to death with their "evidence". It's pretty simple.

As far as appeals courts go...give me a break. Look at the case of the "West Memphis 3". Take a hard look. When these men first took their cases to appeals, guess who the appeals court judge was......are you guessing? Oh, it was the judge in the original case who immediately denied any appeal without looking at one iota of evidence. The West Memphis community was ready to kill all 3 of these men in the streets for several years until the truth started coming out. Yes, the parents of those poor little boys who were slain believed everything the police & prosecutors put in front of them. Well guess what, they were lies. Out of the 3 boys parents, only one still believes the "West Memphis 3" are guilty and he actually is starting to waiver. The other parents are all supporting their release & are demanding that the real killer or killers be found & prosecuted. Yes, the parent now know they were lied to. Now they feel guilt (which they shouldn't have to) because the 3 guys who are sitting in prison ARE innocent & they wanted them all to die terrible deaths.

This falls on the heads & hands of the police and prosecutors, plain & simple. They were so determined to make someone, anyone pay for what happened to those precious children, that they took other children and put 2 in prison for life & one on death row. This is why our "system" needs to get it right. Sometimes it takes years, but wouldn't you rather have the right people pay than just whoever they feel is/are good candidates to suffer? I know I would.

As I said, I would love for the right people to be put to death for crimes, but the magic word is "right". If there are serious questions, then no, we can not allow the wrong people to pay for crimes.

I'm the opposite of Bill, I used to be against the death penalty, but had things happen in my life which changed my mind. The sad part, the person that changed my mind is only serving a life sentence. In the 20 years he's been locked up, he has received a free college degree & also pastors to other prisoners. Btw, that was one of his jobs before he committed the pre-meditated, brutal murder of his wife. His excuse, "she was just a dumb country girl, so who cares".

Most of us would just like the "system" to get it right, period. After seeing many who were falsely accused & prosecuted let out after serving years in prison, it's not a lot to ask.