The case of California death row inmate Kevin Cooper will be the subject of an hour-long episode of CNN’s Death Row Stories, on Sunday, July 26, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The episode examines the case of Kevin Cooper, who came within 3 hours and 42 minutes of being executed in February 2004, before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay. Cooper maintains that he is innocent and was framed by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the San Bernardino County District Attorney for the June 1983 slayings of Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their daughter Jessica, and houseguest Christopher Hughes. Cooper is represented by attorneys at Orrick on a pro bono basis.
“We hope this documentary will shed light on Kevin Cooper’s case and help prevent the State of California from executing an innocent man,” said Norman Hile, Senior Litigation Counsel at Orrick.
As the documentary reveals, there remains significant doubt as to whether Cooper received a fair trial. The show reexamines the evidence and includes interviews with prosecutors and former FBI agent Thomas R. Parker.
Cooper’s claims that he was denied his human rights during his trial and on appeal are currently pending before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an agency of the Organization of American States. The Commission is expected to rule on Cooper’s claims during its session in Washington D.C. this week. Cooper’s petition to the IACHR alleges that his human rights were violated because of racial discrimination, prosecutorial misconduct, ineffective defense counsel and unfair proceedings including evidence destruction, evidence tampering and planting of false evidence. “We are asking that the evidence in Kevin Cooper’s case be retested and we expect this ruling will show that the IACHR agrees he did not receive a fair trial,” said Hile.
Narrated by Susan Sarandon and featuring stories told by the people who have lived on death row, each episode of Death Row Stories seeks to unravel the truth behind a different capital murder case and poses tough questions about the U.S. capital punishment system. Death Row Stories is executive produced by Academy® Award-winner Alex Gibney (Going Clear) of Jigsaw Productions, together with Academy® Award-winner Robert Redford and Laura Michalchyshyn of Sundance Productions. Dave Snyder and Stacey Offman also serve as executive producers. The series regularly airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CNN.