Just days after Kim Kardashian successfully convinced President Donald Trump to pardon Alice Johnson, the reality star is seemingly ready to move on to her next wrongful conviction case. Kim is determined to exonerate four-time convicted murderer Kevin Cooper, who has been on death row for the past 33 years. The KUWTK star is now urging California Governor Jerry Brown to allow the retesting of the prisoner’s DNA on Twitter.
Governor Brown, can you please test the DNA of Kevin Cooper? https://t.co/MB4kE03sC4
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 16, 2018
So, what did Kevin Cooper do to end up on death row?
In 1985, the now 59-year-old was found guilty of the murders of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and her friend Chris Hughes, who was also 10 years old at the time. The father of Chris, Bill Hughes, found the bodies of his son and the Ryen family in their home, which was next to a vacant house Cooper, who had escaped from prison after being arrested for burglary, admitted to hiding out in. However, Cooper has maintained his innocence since his arrest and at his trial he claimed to have left the house as soon as it got dark on June 4 and hitchiked to Mexico. It was determined Cooper checked into a Tijuana hotel on June 5. He was arrested seven weeks later.
In a New York Times op-ed piece, columnist Nicholas Kristof detailed how the sole survivor of the murders, eight-year-old Joshua Ryen, told police the killers had been three or four white men — but investigators focused on Cooper, who is African American, instead. Along with the eyewitness, other claims of innocence include a judge on the case claiming blood found on the T-shirt submitted as evidence may have been planted and another judge, Justin Quackenbush, wrote that a woman named Diana Roper called the police to tell them that her boyfriend, Lee Furrow, arrived home on the night of the murders and changed out of blood-splattered overalls, which she handed over to investigators. However, his clothing was never tested and were thrown away on the day of Cooper’s arraignment.
According to Cooper, his sentencing is proof of racism in the criminal justice system. Initially sentenced to be killed via lethal injection in 2004, his execution was blocked until further DNA testing was allowed. Several groups including the ACLU and Death Penalty Focus have since campaigned in Cooper’s name. Senator Kamala Harris also called for Governor Brown to retest his DNA, tweeting, “As a firm believer in DNA testing, I hope the governor and the state will allow for such testing in the case of Kevin Cooper.”
In a statement to The New York Post, Gov. Brown, “has received the clemency petition from Cooper and it remains under review.”
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