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Appeals Court Blocks Execution of Kevin Cooper

February 10, 2004

A federal appeals court in California blocked the execution of Kevin Cooper Monday just before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection in San Quentin Prison. The state of California then asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the execution but the high court turned down the state’s appeal.

Kevin Cooper is still alive. Just hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection, California death row prisoner Kevin Cooper won a stay of execution.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a request for an 11-judge panel to rehear Cooper’s case. He was convicted in 1983 of killing four people but has long maintained his innocence.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had denied Cooper a clemency hearing saying he saw no reason to doubt his guilt or spare his life. But the appeals court ruled 9-2 yesterday to grant a stay of execution for Cooper writing "No person should be executed if there is a doubt about his or her guilt and an easily available test will determine guilt or innocence."

Cooper’s scheduled execution has drawn opposition on a large scale. About 100 death penalty opponents gathered Sunday near Schwarzenegger’s home in Southern California, and hundreds planned a candlelight vigil outside the prison gates. Even three of the jurors who convicted Cooper were calling for a stay of execution so hair and blood evidence can be tested.

Cooper has also won support from actors who oppose the death penalty including Denzel Washington, Sean Penn and Mike Farrell, and from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

  • Gregory Evans, one of the laywers working on Kevin Cooper’s defense team.

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