[Marxism] Court grants Cooper stay of execution in Cal.

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Mon Feb 9 22:27:14 MST 2004

Associated Press Writer

February 9, 2004, 2:01 PM EST


SAN FRANCISCO -- A condemned murderer whose bid for clemency was
denied by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won a stay of execution on
Monday, hours before he was to be executed.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request for an
11-judge panel to rehear the case of Kevin Cooper, convicted in 1983
of hacking four people to death.

It was not clear when the panel would hear the latest challenge, which
Cooper's attorneys filed Sunday. Cooper was scheduled to be executed
at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday at San Quentin Prison after 19 years on death

Cooper won support from actors who oppose the death penalty including
Denzel Washington, Sean Penn and Mike Farrell, and from the Rev. Jesse
Jackson and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. In addition, three of the jurors
who convicted Cooper called for a stay of execution so hair and blood
evidence can be tested.

Cooper, 46, was sentenced to death for the murders of Douglas and
Peggy Ryen, both 41, their 10-year-old daughter, Jessica, and
Christopher Hughes, her 11-year-old friend.

On Sunday, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit rejected Cooper's
legal claims by 2-1. Out of deference to the dissenting judge, the
majority of the judges agreed to allow an 11-judge panel to review the

"There should be no hurry to execute Cooper," Judge James R. Browning
wrote in his dissent Sunday, adding that the hair and blood evidence
from the scene should be reexamined.

Also Sunday, Cooper's attorneys filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme
Court seeking to block the execution.

Cooper claims DNA evidence found at the scene, which matches his, was
planted by authorities. He has repeatedly asked for renewed tests, but
the courts have balked, saying there is no evidence of tampering and
there is overwhelming evidence of Cooper's guilt.

Cooper maintains a trio of murderers committed the savage attacks,
according to his attorney, David Alexander.

Cooper's attorneys also insisted they have new evidence in the case,
producing a woman who said that on the night of the 1983 murders, she
saw two men covered in blood at a bar near the scene of the killings.

On Saturday, three of Cooper's jurors called for a stay of execution.
They said blond hair found in the hands of one of the victims should
be tested. The hair had not undergone DNA testing before the 1985
trial. Prosecutors believe the hair was that of the victim, sheared
off as she was being hacked to death.

Cooper's execution would have been the first in California in two
years and is the first death penalty case Schwarzenegger had to deal
with. The last execution in California was that of Stephen Anderson in
2002, when Schwarzenegger's predecessor, Gray Davis, refused to grant

The last California governor to grant clemency to a condemned murderer
was Ronald Reagan, who in 1967 spared the life of a severely
brain-damaged killer.

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