Wednesday, February 25, 2004
San Bernardino D.A. Praises Lockyer Move in Cooper Case
By J’AMY PACHECO, Staff Writer
San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos yesterday praised State Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s decision to take legal action that could result in the reinstatement of the death sentence of convicted murderer Kevin Cooper.
Lockyerís decision to seek the lifting of the stay was “great news,” Ramos said.
Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin said his office intends to file two documents in the matter.
The first, expected to be filed this week, will be an application to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, as circuit justice for the Ninth Circuit, for a temporary stay of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appealsí order sending the Cooper matter back to the San Diego trial courts.
The second document, he said, would be a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the high court to consider accepting the case to decide whether or not the Ninth Circuit had the jurisdictional authority to take the action it did.
Cooper was convicted in 1985 of murdering a Chino Hills family. His high-profile case was transferred to San Diego, and he was sentenced to death following his conviction for the brutal killings of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old family friend who was spending the night at the Ryen home.
Cooper was also convicted of attempting to murder the Ryen’s young son, who survived the attack.
Cooper was scheduled for execution Feb. 10. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit rejected one of Cooper’s final appeals, but hours before he was to be put to death, an en banc panel granted a stay of execution. The stay was left intact by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The following day, Ramos said he called Lockyer and was put through to the attorney general’s home. Ramos said he told Lockyer that it was important to him and to the victims of the crime that further attempts be made to take the matter back to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ramos said the action could “perhaps get resolution much sooner than if we have to go back to the judge in San Diego.”
The killings took place on June 5, 1983 in an affluent area of San Bernardino County.
On June 1, 1983, Cooper escaped from the California Institute for Men in Chino. He had been convicted of burglary under a false name, and was transferred to a minimum security section of the prison the day before his escape.
He spent two days hiding in a vacant house next door to the Ryen home. Prosecutors contend that, unable to enlist his friends’ help with a getaway, Cooper brutally killed the family and their guest using a hatchet and a buck knife, and stole their vehicle. He fled, but was arrested two months after the killings, when he was found living on a houseboat and using the name Angel Jackson.
Copyright 2004, Metropolitan News Company