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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Kevin Cooper: Victimized by American Injustice
Saturday, 19 December 2009
Still on death row, activists nationally support Cooper's struggle after many years of wrongful imprisonment for a crime he didn't commit, yet may pay for it with his life.
On November 30, the US Supreme Court denied Kevin Cooper justice by not reviewing his wrongful murder conviction despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence. Cooper is Black and was framed for a multiple homicide he never committed. He's imprisoned on death row at San Quentin State Prison, Marin County, CA, a victim of American injustice.
Savekevincooper.org documents his case and efforts to exonerate and release him, so far in vain and unlikely unless a new governor grants clemency or pardons him after taking office in January 2011.
On January 30, 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger denied him clemency, saying at the time:
On November 30, 2009, Los Angeles Times writer Carol Williams broke the bad news headlining, "Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper loses last appeal," then adding background on his case. More on that below.
In 1991, the California Supreme Court upheld his conviction, then denied his habeas petition in 1996. In 2001, a three-judge federal 9th Circuit panel affirmed his habeas petition denial. On February 9, 2004, on the eve of his scheduled execution, an en banc (full court) 9th Circuit panel reversed the earlier denial by granting him a stay of execution until his new federal habeas application could be considered.
On May 11, 2009, the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals:
Eleven of the 27 judges dissented, some warning that "The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man."
Eight judges agreed on a dissenting opinion (identified only by their last names) - Fletcher, Wardlaw, Fisher, Reinhardt, Rymer, Pregerson, Paez, and Rawlinson.
After the US Supreme Court's denial, Cooper's execution is more likely, and threatens other innocent Black prisoners, the most famous being Mumia Abu-Jamal, falsely convicted in July 1982, thereafter on death row, and in April 2009 denied a new trial by the High Court despite prosecutorial discrimination in striking Blacks from his prospective juror panel to get enough Whites on it to convict.
Timeline of the Case
Yet the test result showed "an extremely high level of EDTA in the sample that was supposed to contain Cooper's blood. If that test result was valid, it showed that Cooper's blood had been planted on the t-shirt, just as Cooper maintained."
A subsequent analysis confirmed the test's validity, yet the district court let "the state-designated law....withdraw the test result on the ground of claimed contamination in the lab," with no allowed inquiry to prove it. In addition, the "court then refused to allow further testing on the t-shirt, even though such testing was feasible."
The above judges had just cause to believe Cooper was framed, falsely convicted, and deserves redress. Yet:
Late at night on June 4, 1983, Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter and house guest were brutally murdered in their home. Their eight year old son, Josh, suffered severe injuries but survived. According to the above dissenting judges:
"The victims had numerous chopping, cutting and stabbing injuries, caused by several different kinds of weapons," including ones inflicted after they died. "Two days earlier, (Cooper) had escaped from the minimum security section of the nearby California Institute for Men (CIM)....by walking across an open field. He had been serving a four-year sentence for burglary."
He stayed in a vacant house near the Ryens, and according to the State, "acted alone in killing the four victims....to facilitate his escape," although for what purpose wasn't plausibly explained.
Cooper testified that after two days he left the house at night and hitchhiked to Mexico. "There is undisputed evidence that (he) registered at a hotel in Tijuana at 4:30 PM on June 5....The Ryens' white wood-paneled station wagon had been parked in (their) driveway (with) the keys in the ignition, throughout the entire evening of June 4. On June 11, (it) was discovered in the parking lot of a Long Beach church, where it had been for several days. Tijuana is 125 miles south of the Ryen house. Long Beach is 45 miles west (of it)."
Clear Evidence Suggests Other Killers
Shortly before his scheduled execution date, Cooper's now-retired CIM prison warden, Midge Carroll, provided a sworn declaration saying that her staff informed her that shoes issued prisoners "were not prison manufactured or specially designed prison-issue shoes (but, rather, were) common tennis shoes available to the general public through Sears and Roebuck and other such retail stores."
She told investigators prior to trial, and it was critical to Cooper's defense. Key to prosecutorial charges was that "identical shoeprints at the crime scene and in the house where Cooper had been staying were made by Pro-Ked Dude tennis shoes, and that these shoes were distributed only to prisons and other institutions."
According to the dissenting judges:
"Warden Carroll's information, though clearly exculpatory, had not been provided to Cooper prior to trial." They didn't elaborate, but apparently meant he was wearing different shoes when arrested, shoes he owned didn't match the murder scene footprints, and/or multiple footprints indicated more than one killer, not one as prosecutors charged.
Later, however, it was learned that the shoeprint wasn't discovered at the Ryen home, but suspiciously in the SBDSD Crime Lab. In addition, after testifying at trial that he issued Cooper Pro-Ked Dude tennis shoes shortly before his escape, CIM inmate James Taylor recanted in a sworn declaration supporting Cooper's second habeas petition.
It was also learned that because of his medical problem with one foot, Cooper got a "chrono" entitling him to wear special soft-sole shoes, not standard issue for other prisoners, and more proof that the crime scene footprints weren't his.
Overall, "substantial evidence (showed) that three white men, rather than Cooper, were the killers. Some of the evidence was introduced at trial. Some of (it), even though exculpatory, was deliberately destroyed by the SBCSD and was therefore not available for use at trial." More as well was concealed from Cooper and unavailable. "Given the weakness of the evidence against Cooper, if the State had given (his) attorneys this exculpatory evidence it is highly unlikely that (he) would have been convicted."
"Josh Ryen, the only survivor of the attack, first (told) SBCSD Deputy Sharp that the murderers were three white men," and this statement was entered into the June 5 PM police log. Further, "The injuries to the victims were consistent with the use of multiple weapons. The number of victims, and the number and nature of the wounds, led the coroner to conclude that there was more than one killer."
Cooper also had no motive for the killings, and none was established at trial.
When Josh was shown his picture, he said he was not one of the killers. They were White, not Black, as confirmed by clumps of long blond hair found in one of the victim's hands.
A week after the murders, a woman named Diana Roper told police that her boyfriend, Lee Furrow, came home wearing blood-spattered coveralls the night of the crime, and gave them to police believing he was one of the killers. Yet records show they were disposed of without testing. Roper also said, Furrow was wearing a beige t-shirt the night of the incident, apparently the one later found near the scene, stained with Doug Ryen's blood and later claimed to have Cooper's but not when first tested.
Roper told police that Furrow owned a hatchet, missing from his tool belt after the murders. In addition, eyewitnesses saw three or four people speeding away from the Ryen home in the family's car shortly after the crime. A convicted felon, Kenneth Koon, told his cellmate, Anthony Wisely, that he and two other men killed the Ryens. Koon and Furrow knew each other.
According to Wisely, on the day of the incident, Furrow bailed someone out of jail. None of this was introduced at trial, so jurors never heard it. An angered 9th Circuit judge said:
"Kevin Cooper may be executed without any court considering the merits of colorable evidence that another individual, Kenneth Koon, confessed to the murders." In addition, the crime scene was destroyed, making it impossible to reconstruct the murders. The evidence was so corrupted that the trial judge said:
"(w)ithout any criminalistics experience at all, (anyone) could have gone in there and done a better job" than the police in collecting and preserving the evidence. It made the defense's job impossible.
Police lied about the evidence, concealed everything exculpatory to frame an innocent man. False evidence was planted, including cigarette butts with Cooper's DNA in the Ryen car, not there when first examined, then mysteriously turned up later.
Evidence Presented at Trial
Prosecutors called it "overwhelming." Jurors disagreed saying they barely had enough to convict, but practically nothing exculpatory was introduced, including that a convicted criminal later confessed.
After deliberating, they reported that:
The blond hair at the crime scene was never tested or compared to other potential killers. Brown hair was also found and not tested. Forensic experts said a hatchet, knife and ice pick killed or wounded the four victims within minutes of each other, so multiple assailants were involved.
Prosecutors claimed Cooper killed the Ryens to steal their car and money. Yet, outside their home, the keys were in the ignition, and a substantial amount of money and other valuables were found in the home untouched.
Unknown to the defense, samples of Cooper's blood and saliva were secretly given the prosecution's technicians for 24 hours with no court order. At trial, it was claimed they were at the crime scene and matched Cooper's DNA. Clearly they were planted.
UPI reporter Kristina Rebelo-Anderson, who covered the trial, said in sworn deposition that a former confidential police informant, Albert Anthony Ruiz, told her that he and others were instructed by sheriff's deputies and DEA agents to plant evidence to convict Cooper. She added that the killings "were a hit on the wrong family," intended against a cocaine trafficking ring involving local police. Ruiz also told US Justice Department officials that Cooper was an innocent scapegoat.
None of this came out at trial. Instead falsified evidence was presented in a racist witch-hunt climate, including graffiti around the court house demanding "Kevin Cooper Must Be Hanged," and "Hang the Nigger!" Not sequestered, jurors saw it, including racist media accounts, that, of course, biased them to convict or face a public backlash, including from family and friends.
With it all, jurors barely convicted, six later writing Governor Schwarznegger to halt his execution because of "too many unanswered questions," and if they knew then what they believe now, they never would have convicted, let alone impose the death penalty.
At the same time, full page ads in major California newspapers and The New York Times asked, "Does California have the wrong man?" Hundreds of people signed them, including dozens of California legislators; nine members of the European parliament; six labor leaders; members of the clergy; Jesse Jackson; various celebrities; other prominent figures; and former Illinois Governor George Ryan who declared a moratorium on all state executions after courts found 13 death row inmates innocent.
Some Final Comments
In January 2003, Illinois Governor George Ryan saved 163 men and four women on death row announcing:
It overwhelmingly affects people of color and got the US Supreme Court (in Furman v. Georgia, 1972) to say:
"the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty....constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments," and, in how they're applied, so "harsh, freakish, and arbitrary" to be constitutionally unacceptable. The decision voided 40 death penalty statutes, thereby commuting the sentences of over 600 death row inmates nationally.
In 1976 (in Gregg v. Georgia, Jurek v. Texas, and Proffitt v. Florida, collectively called the Gregg decision), the High Court reinstated the death penalty and let states impose it. The Court held that new death penalty statutes in these states were constitutional under the Eighth Amendment, containing the cruel and unusual punishments clause that should effectively have prohibited it.
In Gregg v. Georgia, the Court held that the death penalty is not inherently cruel, but is "an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes."
In fact, it's cruel and unusual, a barbaric relic. It defiles due process, judicial fairness, and humanity. It violates equal constitutional protection under the law. It disproportionately affects people of color, the poor, and disadvantaged. It legitimizes the illegitimate, what's prohibited by fundamental religious teachings stating "thou shall not kill." It justifies an eye for an eye, what Gandhi said makes the whole world blind, is ineffective in deterring crime, and unconscionable by a society calling itself civilized.
Further, who can judge fairly in light of clear evidence of numerous wrongful convictions, framed defendants, and the most disadvantaged denied due process and judicial fairness - to wit, Kevin Cooper, an innocent man, framed by state officials who may die for the crimes of three others.
In his own words, ahead of his scheduled February 2004 execution, he said:
Still on death row, activists nationally support Cooper's struggle after many years of wrongful imprisonment for a crime he didn't commit, yet may pay for it with his life.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.
Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on December 19, 2009.
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