Defenders Seek Delay In California Execution


Fifth-grader Christopher Hughes rode his bicycle to a friend’s house for a sleepover in 1983. It was the last time Mary Ann Hughes and her husband, Bill, saw their son alive, the Los Angeles Times reports. That evening, escaped prison inmate Kevin Cooper allegedly broke into the friend’s home and murdered his parents and 10-year-old sister, and Christopher Hughes. The friend, Joshua Ryen, was injured but survived. He will be sitting in the witness chamber in San Quentin State Prison when Cooper, 46, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. “I don’t expect him to say he’s sorry; I don’t think he’s afraid to meet his maker,” Mary Ann Hughes said. “I don’t think there’s any forgiveness in him. I just think there’s evil in this world, and he’s part of it.”

People protesting the execution, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson and actors Mike Farrell and James Cromwell, gathered outside Schwarzenegger’s estate yesterday. The protesters urged the governor to postpone the execution so that new evidence offered by the defense can be investigated. “If the governor really believed that – not in the movie, but in real life – that [Cooper] committed this crime,” Jackson said, “let him pull the switch himself.”

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals rejected a request for a delay yesterday by a 2 to 1 vote. The case could go before the full court today. Cooper has maintained his innocence, but the only eyewitness, Joshua Ryen, insists that he was the killer.

On Friday U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose rejected Cooper’s claim that California’s use of lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because one of the chemicals may mask inmate suffering, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Although the U.S. Supreme Court is considering a related issue in an Alabama case, the high court recently has allowed many executions in other states where similar challenges have been mounted.

The California Supreme Court agreed Friday to review the latest attempt to prove that police tampered with evidence to frame Cooper. A former reporter said last week she was told by a San Diego man who claimed to be a former San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy that evidence was planted in Cooper’s case and that he didn’t commit the crimes.


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