What is the state afraid of?

Demand DNA testing in Kevin Cooper's case!


Kevin Cooper
By: Becky Downer

For more information, call the Bay Area CEDP hotline at 415-789-8363.

To request petitions, leave a message on the hotline or write to the CEDP-SF at:
PMB 352
915 Cole St.
San Francisco, CA
94117.

Kevin has a Web page about his case at www.activist-etc.org

For the past 15 years, Kevin Cooper has been locked away in an 11-by-4-foot cell on death row at San Quentin Prison in California. For the same 15 years, evidence such as hair and blood samples has likewise been locked away -- evidence that could exonerate Kevin if the state will allow it to be DNA tested.

But that testing has yet to be approved.

In 1985, Kevin was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the Ryan family and a house guest in San Bernadino County.

The sole survivor of the killings, Josh Ryan, has always maintained that three white people killed his family, not Kevin, who is Black. Josh and his grandmother believe in Kevin's innocence.

The defense counsel at Kevin's trial was poorly prepared. Photographs of the victims' hands clutching long strands of blonde hair -- clearly not belonging to Kevin -- were never shown to the jury. Only recently has this evidence been brought to light by Kevin's new attorneys.

Their petition, which requests that the state allow DNA testing of 53 pieces of evidence, was denied by the California Supreme Court. Kevin's attorneys have submitted a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review the state's denials, which were based on the "timeliness" of the discovery of evidence.

The San Francisco Bay Area chapters of the Campaign have launched a signature drive to gather support and put pressure on the politicians. At meetings, marches, demonstrations, tabling events and a recent Live From Death Row at which Kevin spoke, the chapters are collecting signatures on a petition demanding that California State's Attorney General Bill Lockyer order DNA testing.

What's even more important is that people get actively involved in the struggle to free Kevin Cooper. Only a large, broad-based movement can challenge the system that wants to silence Kevin and others like him.

Every voice and hand is needed.