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Published on Feb 7, 2012
On February 20, San Quentin Prison (just north of San Francisco) was the site of a groundbreaking Occupy San Quentin demonstration linking Occupy Wall Street with the anti-prison movement. Inside on San Quentin's death row is a man named Kevin Cooper, whose case for innocence is widely considered to be one of the most compelling today. When the Ninth Circuit Court ruled against Cooper's final appeal in 2009, Judge William A. Fletcher wrote in his 101-page dissenting opinion that "the State of California may be about to execute an innocent man."
Kevin Cooper's controversial 1985 conviction and death sentence is the subject of a new book by veteran journalist J. Patrick O'Connor, titled, Scapegoat: The Chino Hills Murders and The Framing of Kevin Cooper. O'Connor is the editor of www.crimemagazine.com and the author of The Framing of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Lawrence Hill, 2008).
For several years, O'Connor researched the brutal 1985 murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their daughter Jessica, 10, and her friend, Christopher Hughes, 11, which took place inside the Ryens' Chino Hills home in San Bernardino County, CA. Scapegoat chronicles how despite abundant evidence that the murders were actually committed by three white men, the district attorney instead targeted a prison escapee named Kevin Cooper, who had been hiding out inside a nearby house at the time of the murders. O'Connor concludes that Kevin Cooper is innocent, and he argues that the police and prosecution orchestrated a rather sloppy frame-up that has nonetheless been upheld by the federal appeals courts.