As-Salaam Alaikum ~

Having suffered 310 years of chattle slavery, 138 years of freed-slavery and over 100 years of lynching by street mobs and mad-dog killers, The Nation of Black has perpetually faced legal (state sanctioned) lynchings by way of the criminal's injustice system, courts and institutions.

A case in point is our Brother Kevin Cooper who faces execution, one minute after midnight, Tuesday, February! As one Black Brother succinctly put it: " just another dead nigga' gone!"

It is our view that this Brothers and others like him should not be forgotten and the price for taking an innocent man's life should be greater than political expediency!

Therefore, we ask that you publish this Brother's plight, perhaps it will help shock some of our people out of their complacency!

We are enclosing an article which speaks to Kevin Cooper's case. Thank you for your time and attention.

Minister Salaam and Sister Halimah Allah
California Execution Draws Criticism

February 9, 2004 09:59 AM EST

SAN FRANCISCO - A condemned murderer whose bid for clemency has attracted support from a host of celebrities is set to be executed this week, the first death penalty case for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Kevin Cooper, who was convicted in the 1983 hacking deaths of four people, is scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday at San Quentin Prison after spending 19 years on death row.

Cooper's case has gained the attention of actors who oppose the death penalty, including Sean Penn, Mike Farrell and Denzel Washington. Also joining them are the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. Some have taken to the airwaves, bought newspaper ads and held news conferences to push for clemency.

On Sunday, two of Cooper's legal claims were turned aside by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Schwarzenegger has already declined to halt the death sentence. No California governor has granted clemency to a condemned murderer since Ronald Reagan in 1967 spared the life of a severely brain-damaged killer.

Death penalty opponents gathered Sunday near Schwarzenegger's home in Southern California, and hundreds of demonstrators are planning a candlelight vigil outside the prison gates.

"This could be one of our biggest protests ever," said Lance Lindsay, executive director of Death Penalty Focus, a group that lobbies against the death penalty.

A day earlier, three of the jurors who convicted Cooper called for a stay of execution so hair and blood evidence can be tested. But the mother of one of Cooper's victims, Mary Ann Hughes, dismissed the jurors' plea.

"This is nothing new," said Hughes. "It's stuff that has been looked at millions of times. This is just an example of the defense playing on the jurors emotions at the last minute."
Cooper, 46, was convicted in 1985 and 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.

The San Bernardino County victims were stabbed and hacked repeatedly with a hatchet and buck knife. The Ryens' 8-year-old son, Joshua, had his throat slit, but survived.
Joshua Ryen, now a construction worker, was awakened the night of the murder by screaming and was left unconscious with a slashed throat, two hatchet wounds and two stab wounds, his lawyer, Milt Silverman, told the Los Angeles Times for a story in Monday editions.

"Josh wakes up from the attack in the deathly still bedroom, where the stench of blood was nauseating," Silverman told the newspaper. "He put all four fingers in his neck to stop his bleeding while he was staring closely at his mother - dead, and covered in blood. Josh laid there 11 hours."

Ryen hired Silverman after he and his grandmother expressed doubts that Cooper acted alone, but Silverman said his investigation left the survivor convinced that Cooper was the lone killer.

When the murders were committed, Cooper was on the run after escaping from prison, where he had been serving a four-year sentence for burglary. Authorities speculated his motive was to steal the family's station wagon.

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.

In a telephone conference call with reporters Sunday night, Alexander said the condemned man's legal team will continue efforts to spare his life. In addition to a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Cooper's lawyers could continue their struggle in lower federal courts and the state Supreme Court.
On the Net:
Death Penalty Information Center:

Back to home page