Innocence Investigation for Kevin Cooper

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Dear Governor Newsom,

As you stated in your reasoning for ordering a moratorium on executions in California, we have a broken system that has sent many innocent people to death row. In fact, 172 people have been exonerated. In California alone, five wrongly convicted people, unjustly incarcerated on death row, have been exonerated since 1978. One of these men, Vicente Figueroa Benavides, was freed in 2018 after 26 years on death row.

Kevin Cooper has been on death row in California for over 35 years. He has always maintained his innocence. On January 14, 2020 his attorney requested that you use your powers under Penal Code section 4812 and 5 CCR2816 (b) to order an “Innocence Investigation” into his case. Thank you for your previous attention to his case and for ordering the final DNA testing on evidence that had long been neglected. However, there are a number of questions regarding the conduct of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department as well as other evidence which must also be investigated.

California does not yet have an Innocence Commission to review Mr. Cooper's innocence claim, therefore we urge you to authorize the “Innocence Investigation” into Mr. Cooper’s case and to do so with all deliberate speed as he has already spent more than three decades on death row.