Monday, September 7, 2009

Will California Execute An Innocent Man?

(The embedded video above is part one of three. Be sure to watch parts two and three at our YouTube page.)

An interview with author J. Patrick O’Connor about death row prisoner Kevin Cooper

By Angola 3 News
(Photo: Kevin Cooper)

“The State of California may be about to execute an innocent man,” wrote Judge William A. Fletcher of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco. Judge Fletcher was writing about death-row prisoner Kevin Cooper, whose recent appeal to stop his execution was rejected by the Ninth Circuit on May 11, 2009.

One of the 11 out of 27 Circuit judges that dissented against the ruling to deny Cooper relief, Judge Fletcher wrote in the 101 page dissenting opinion that Cooper was “probably innocent,” of the 1983 murders for which he was convicted, and “if he is innocent, the real killers have escaped…They may kill again. They may already have done so…We owe it to the victims of this horrible crime, to Kevin Cooper, and to ourselves, to get this one right.”

Judge Fletcher’s dissent was recently featured in a front page New York Times article by John Schwartz, titled “Judges’ Dissents for Death Row Inmates Are Rising.” Schwartz writes that Fletcher “argued that the evidence had been tainted by bumbling and misconduct and suggested that blood linking Mr. Cooper to the crime had been planted by overzealous investigators. And while the Ninth Circuit in 2004 ordered new DNA tests, Judge Fletcher wrote that the lower court had set conditions rendering the results useless. ‘There is no way to say this politely,’ he wrote. ‘The district court failed to provide Cooper a fair hearing and flouted our direction to perform the two tests.’”

On May 18, 2009 Kevin Cooper was interviewed by Flashpoints/KPFA radio, where Cooper compared his current situation with that in 2004, when he came less than 4 hours from being executed before a stay was granted: “I was able to survive this madness. And now I seem to be right back, right in it.”

J. Patrick O’Connor is the editor of and the author of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Lawrence Hill, 2008). He has previously worked as a reporter for UPI, editor of Cincinnati Magazine, associate editor of TV Guide, and editor and publisher of the Kansas City New Times. This newly released video-interview with O’Connor was conducted in June, 2009 in San Francisco, at the law office of Orrick, Herrington, and Sutcliffe, which is the law firm representing Kevin Cooper. O’Connor is currently researching and beginning to write a new book about Cooper’s story.

Kevin Cooper’s lawyers are expected to file an appeal with the US Supreme Court later this fall, which will be Cooper’s last chance to avoid execution. The Kevin Cooper Defense Committee, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is planning a major event for December 13, for which some details are still forthcoming. To learn more about the Dec. 13 event and about Kevin Cooper, please visit or contact Rebecca Doran of the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee directly by phone (415-264-6622) or email (

--This new video-interview and written report was made by Angola 3 News, which is a new project of the International Coalition to Free the Angola 3. At our website, we are collecting news stories and creating our own media projects about the Angola 3, and other cases like Kevin Cooper’s, which are part of a larger picture of multi-faceted injustice within the ‘criminal justice’ system. Please stay tuned for upcoming releases from Angola 3 News!

**Angola Prison was in the news today when the Shreveport Times published an article titled “Louisiana death penalty: an eye for an eye or ineffective?

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