Retired cop’s sentencing for bank robbery delayed

RIVERSIDE — Retired Pomona police Sgt. Frank Holder’s was scheduled to be sentenced for bank robbery today, but the hearing was delayed to February, a federal prosecutor said.

Holder, 62, pleaded guilty in August to committing two bank robberies in October last year — one in Glendora and one in Rancho Cucamonga.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for Holder, of Phelan, to receive a prison sentence of 37 months to 46 months, according to prosecutors.

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Kevin Cooper coverage roundup

The U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection today of Kevin Cooper’s latest appeal has gotten a little bit of news coverage online. Sample lead from Hip Hop Online: “Kevin Copper is one step closer to the reaper after the Supreme Court rejected his attempt to get another trial and win his freedom.”

The rest:

Los Angeles Times

Associated Press

San Francisco Appeal

San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

SCOTUS Blog (fourth paragraph from the bottom)

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FULL STORY: U.S. Supreme Court denies Kevin Cooper’s appeal

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The U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition today filed by Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper seeking intervention in his decades-old murder case.

Cooper was convicted of murder and sentenced to death nearly 25 years ago for the brutal 1983 ax killings in Chino Hills of a married couple, their daughter, and a houseguest.

Cooper, 51, claims he is innocent and has accused law enforcement of framing him.

Forensic tests were performed on evidence in his case after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay on Cooper’s execution the day it was set to be carried out in 2004.

The tests failed to exonerate him, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Cooper’s request this year for additional testing.

The lower court’s ruling was upheld today with the Supreme Court’s rejection of Cooper’s appeal.

Even though Cooper’s bid to the Supreme Court has now failed, he still has legal avenues to challenge his conviction and further delay execution, said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson in an interview last month.

Cooper and his legal team can continue to investigate his case to potentially uncover new evidence on which to base a new appeal.

And if California officials find a method of lethal injection they believe passes Constitutional muster, Cooper or other inmates can sue to challenge the legality of the execution method, Levenson said.

Executions have been on hold in the state since 2006 because of concern that the state’s lethal injection method is inhumane.

In June 1983, Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their daughter Jessica, 10, and houseguest Christopher Hughes, 11, died after they each suffered at least 20 wounds at the hands of their attacker. Joshua Ryen, then 8, survived the attack despite a slit throat and other injuries.

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On the night of the attacks, Cooper had recently escaped from the California Institution for Men state prison in Chino. He was hiding out in a home adjacent to the Ryens’ property at the time of the killings.

Cooper has been linked to the killings through DNA and other forensic evidence found in the Ryens’ house, the house where Cooper admitted he was hiding, and in a car that was stolen from the Ryens’ home.

Cooper has accused law enforcement in San Bernardino County of planting evidence to frame him for the killings.

In its opposition to Cooper’s Supreme Court petition, the state Attorney General’s office called Cooper’s innocence claims “absurd.”

“His inability to prove his innocence stems from the fact that he is so plainly guilty,” state attorneys wrote. “Further review of (Cooper’s) highly fact-bound case is unwarranted.”

This afternoon, attorney general spokesman Even Westrup said: “Our office believes that the state and federal courts acted properly, and therefore today’s denial is appropriate.”

In a news release following the Supreme Court’s announcement, Cooper’s lead attorney called on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to initiate a federal investigation into Cooper’s claims of evidence tampering and prosecutorial misconduct.

The attorney, Norman Hile, urged witnesses with information on Cooper’s case to come forward.

“Time is running out,” Hile said. “Many witnesses have come forward with helpful evidence, but we now need more. Anyone with information about this case should examine their conscience and ask whether they are willing to let their silence contribute to the execution of a man for crimes he did not commit.”

Cooper’s legal team also highlighted a 103-page opinion written this year by a federal judge who dissented in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Cooper’s request for additional testing.

Circuit Judge William A. Fletcher said the state “may be about to execute an innocent man” and blasted the review of evidence in Cooper’s case. His dissent was joined by four other judges.

Cooper’s legal team accused police and prosecutors today of destroying evidence, planting false evidence, failing to turn over evidence favorable to Cooper, falsifying lab reports, and other misconduct.

“We need a federal investigation to get to the bottom of this and stop the killing of an innocent man,” Hile said in the news release.

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Kevin Cooper’s attorneys vow to ‘continue fight’

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In a news release issued this morning, Kevin Cooper’s attorneys say they will continue to fight to keep Kevin Cooper from being executed. PDF:

cooper_press_release_1.pdf

News release:

Kevin Cooper’s Attorneys Will Continue Fight To Stop Execution Of Innocent Man

After U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Consider Appeal, Additional Witnesses With Information To Save Cooper’s Life Should Come Forward

Attorneys Urge U.S. Attorney General Holder To Investigate Civil Rights Violations

Washington, D.C. — Kevin Cooper’s attorneys said today they would continue to fight to prevent his execution, notwithstanding the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to consider Cooper’s appeal.

“Evidence that we discovered after trial shows that Kevin is innocent of the crime for which he is now sentenced to died. We urge any and all witnesses with information about Kevin’s case to come forward,” said Norman Hile, Cooper’s lead attorney and a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. “Time is running out. Many witnesses have come forward with helpful evidence, but we now need more. Anyone with information about this case should examine their conscience and ask whether they are willing to let their silence contribute to the execution of a man for crimes he did not commit.”

Read the PDF for the full news release:

cooper_press_release_1.pdf
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Supreme Court denies Kevin Cooper’s petition

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The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a petition filed by Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper seeking the court’s intervention his murder case. The decision was announced just minutes ago on the court’s Web site.

PDF (Cooper’s case is at the bottom of page 4):

113009zor.pdf

Cooper was convicted of murder and sentenced to death nearly 25 years ago for the brutal 1983 ax killings in Chino Hills of a married couple, their daughter, and a houseguest.

Cooper, 51, claims he is innocent and has accused law enforcement of framing him. Forensic tests performed on evidence in his case failed to exonerate him earlier this decade.

Even though Cooper’s bid to the U.S. Supreme Court has now failed, he still has legal avenues to further delay execution, said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson in an interview this month.

From a Nov. 22 story on Cooper’s case:

There is currently a moratorium in place for executions in California due to concerns about the state’s method of administering lethal injections.

Once the state finds a method of execution it deems constitutional, Cooper or other inmates can sue to challenge the legality of the method, potentially further delaying executions, Levenson said.

Cooper can also have his legal team continue to investigate his case to seek evidence supporting his innocence claims, Levenson said.

“I don’t think he’s going to quit trying just because a lot of legal avenues are now closed,” Levenson said.

For a little bit of background on Cooper’s case, check out a story published Sunday on his case.

Supreme Court sets Monday announcement on Kevin Cooper petition

Will Bigham, Staff Writer

Created: 11/28/2009 06:09:40 AM PST

Death Row inmate Kevin Cooper is expected to learn at 7 a.m. Monday whether the U.S. Supreme Court will hear his decades-old murder case.

Cooper petitioned the court in September, urging justices to clarify the law in appeals based on claims of actual innocence.

The court’s nine justices held a conference Tuesday to consider whether to take on Cooper’s case, and the decision made at that conference is scheduled to be announced Monday.

Cooper, now 51, was convicted and sentenced to death nearly 25 years ago for the 1983 ax killings in Chino Hills of a married couple, their young daughter and a houseguest.

Following several unsuccessful appeals, he was scheduled to be executed in 2006. But on the day of his scheduled execution, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted Cooper a stay to allow him an opportunity to perform forensic tests on evidence in his case.

After the tests failed to exonerate him, Cooper again appealed his case, claiming that the testing process was administered unfairly.

“(Cooper’s) inability to prove his innocence stems from the fact that he is so plainly guilty,” state attorneys wrote last month in their response to Cooper’s Supreme Court petition. “Further review of (Cooper’s) highly fact-bound case is unwarranted.”

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