January 03, 2011
Kevin Cooper's Legal Team Expresses Disappointment and Vindication; Vows to Continue to Press for Clemency
SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Reacting to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's failure to grant Kevin Cooper's clemency petition during his last day in office, Mr. Cooper's lawyers today expressed disappointment at the out-going governor's lack of action and his decision to forward Mr. Cooper's petition to incoming Governor Jerry Brown. But seeing partial vindication in this act, the team vowed to fight on. "Governor Schwarzenegger dodged this issue in the final hours of his governorship," said Norman Hile, lead attorney for Cooper. "We are disappointed, but there is still time to prevent the execution of an innocent man. Because the State of California is currently enjoined from executions using lethal injection, we will have an opportunity to take our case to incoming Governor Jerry Brown."
“[in] this case, the clemency application raises many evidentiary concerns which deserve a thorough and careful review…”
Cooper's request that Governor Schwarzenegger commute his sentence to life without possibility of parole was the subject of numerous media reports in the past few weeks. They included op-ed columns and newspaper editorials, most notably columns by Nickolas Kristof in the NY Times and Allen Dershowitz and David Rivkin in the LA Times. In addition, the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Sacramento Bee all published editorials calling on the Governor to act to spare Cooper's life.
Cooper's team also noted that, compared to Schwarzenegger's outright denial of clemency for Mr. Cooper in January 2004, in his letter to Mr. Cooper's counsel issued Sunday Schwarzenegger stated that "[in] this case, the clemency application raises many evidentiary concerns which deserve a thorough and careful review…" This statement, according to Cooper's team, reflects the many new developments in the case that point toward Cooper's innocence and being framed. "Governor Schwarzenegger's letter shows that this case is in a very different posture than it was in January 2004," said Lanny Davis, who appeared on Cooper's behalf on CNN's Parker Spitzer and the CBS Evening News. "When Governor Schwarzenegger denied clemency for Mr. Cooper in January 2004 he expressed that he was unequivocally convinced of Mr. Cooper's guilt. This time he said the case deserves more study." Cooper's team pointed to the large amount of evidence that has surfaced since Schwarzenegger's last review in January 2004 including:
- That the Sheriff's Department recovered a blue shirt with blood on it near the crime scene the day after the murders were discovered in 1983, but that shirt was never disclosed to the defense, and it now is missing;
- That blood taken from Cooper after he was arrested, and which was used to convict him, was contaminated with the DNA of another person;
- That three witnesses the prosecution never interviewed, who came forward in 2004 saw three white men the night of the murders in a bar near the crime scene covered in blood;
- That the warden from the prison from which Cooper escaped testified in 2004 that prosecutors presented false evidence at Cooper's 1985 trial regarding the origin of shoes the prosecution claimed could have only come from that prison.
- That a sheriff's deputy lied at Mr. Cooper's trial in 1983 when he testified that he acted on his own when he destroyed bloody coveralls that a woman said were worn by one of the true killers, a convicted murderer.
Cooper's team expressed their determination to continue to press the fight to establish their client's innocence. "We will fight to prevent the execution of an innocent man, a man who was framed," said Hile. Mr. Davis added: "With this much evidence casting doubt on Mr. Cooper's guilt and indisputable evidence of police destroying and withholding evidence that would have helped show Mr. Cooper's innocence, commutation of Mr. Cooper's death sentence is the only proper action. Given this much doubt, a moral society should never execute a man given the alternative of life imprisonment without parole."
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Norman C. Hile, 916-329-7900