Kim Kardashian is on a mission to help overthrow the death sentence of Kevin Cooper, a man convicted for the 1983 murders of a couple and two children. Kim recently visited Cooper in prison, earning the rage of the mother of one his alleged victims, who claims the reality star is being used.
Kim Kardashian continues fighting for the rights of several non-violent inmates convicted either for low drug charges, or those who claim they were unfairly sentenced or framed.
Such is the case of Kevin Cooper, a death row inmate who has been in prison, awaiting his death, since 1983.
Now 61, Cooper has advocated for his innocence since he was first sentenced. He already exhausted all of his court appeals, and his death sentence has been suspended, reinstated, and postponed on several occasions.
"I had an emotional meeting with Kevin Cooper yesterday at San Quentin's death row. I found him to be thoughtful and honest and I believe he is innocent of the crimes for which he was convicted,” Kardashian tweeted alongside a picture with a smiling Cooper.
The gesture, though it seemed thoughtful and brave for many people, didn’t sit well with Mary Ann Hughes, the mother of one of Cooper’s alleged victims.
Hughes is the mother of Christopher Hughes, an 11-year-old boy who was brutally murdered alongside his friend, Jessica Ryen, and her parents, Douglas and Peggy Ryen, in June 1983.
He was the family’s neighbor and was staying at their home in Chino Hills, Los Angeles when they were slashed to death. The family's then 8-year-old son survived the attack.
“My opinion of her is about as low as it goes because of what she's putting my family through... dragging this through the press on a non-stop basis."
Mary Ann told TMZ that she’s disgusted after watching Kim embracing the convicted murderer of her son.
"It makes me feel sick to my stomach, and I pity her. For what she's doing to us, there's nothing to justify what she's doing to us, the immense pain she is causing us,” the mournful woman said.
Hughes added that it is clear Kardashian hasn’t read the overwhelming amount of evidence against Cooper and stated the reality star is buying “half-truths perpetrated by the defense.”
“If she actually sat down and read the transcripts of all the trials and appeals, she would be sick to her stomach to be in the same room with him,” Hughes claimed..
The woman, who is aware of the work Kim’s been doing for the past year by helping 17 more inmates get their freedom, believes Kim is on the wrong side this time around.
She believes Cooper’s attorneys are using Kim’s fame and status to help their client because “the truth just condemns him."
Kevin Cooper in 1983. | Source: YouTube/CBS This Morning
Mary Ann says Cooper is "100 percent guilty, and the evidence shows it.” She also instated Kim should read a 94-page document on the website of the San Bernardino County D.A that was filed in response to Cooper's last attempt to win clemency.
When asked if she would be willing to educate Kim on the case, Mary Ann closed off to the possibility. She said Kim has not reached to her family, and even if she did, she would not want to talk.
“My opinion of her is about as low as it goes because of what she's putting my family through... dragging this through the press on a non-stop basis,” Hughes concluded.
Kim first showed interest for Cooper’s case back in October, when she asked then-governor Jerry Brown to add Cooper to his "legacy of smart, fair, thoughtful criminal justice reforms."
She quoted an article claiming Cooper might have been framed and asked Brown to order new DNA tests in the case.
In December, Brown ordered the retesting of DNA on evidence, including a shirt, towel, hatchet, and sheath. And then on February, Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered additional DNA testing, which officials are still waiting.
Josh Ryen, the then 8-year-old who survived the attack, initially told police that three white or Latino men murdered his parents, sister, and friend.
In addition to that, two witnesses alleged they saw three white men driving a station wagon away from the house on the day of the murders. The family's vehicle, a station wagon, was stolen that night.
Douglas and Peggy Ryen, their daughter Jessica, and her friend Christopher Hughes were the victims. | Source: YouTube/48 Hours
Cooper was an inmate on the run at the time. He had been indicted for burglary but escaped the prison and was hiding out at a house near the Ryen’s home.
Prosecutors claimed that they had found Cooper’s blood on the crime scene, and also used shoe prints that were allegedly from shoes only used in prison as evidence.
However, the warden at Cooper’s prison denied they gave special shoes to inmates, and a later investigation following a 2004 court order to re-test evidence showed that the original sample used to prove Cooper’s blood was on the scene, drawn from his body, actually contained DNA from two different people.
Through the years, several federal judges have stated Cooper may be innocent.
In 2004, Cooper was hours away from his execution when the Ninth Circuit pulled the brakes on it.
The judges decided to summon a review of the case by every member of the court, and afterward, they ruled that some evidence used against Cooper was flawed and illegal.
Kevin Cooper in actuality. | Source: YouTube/CBS This Morning
When asked at the time what would he want people to know about his case if he was executed, Cooper was poignant in his answer:
"I am innocent," he said. "And it’s not my execution. It’s my murder."
Luckily for him, Governor Newsom announced in March that he would abolish the death penalty in the state while he’s on the office.
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