“I had nothing to do with this crime,” the man, Lee, now 68, told me. “I want it all retested, yes. To clear my name.”
I’ve used just Lee’s first name, because he asked me not to use his full name and because enough damage has been done in this murder case by people jumping to conclusions without clear proof. Lee said that his former girlfriend had fingered him to police because she was jealous of his new flame, and that the bloody coveralls were not his.
So both suspects in the case are now pleading with Brown to permit advanced DNA testing of evidence from the murder scene.
Will Brown listen?
I asked Brown what he is waiting for, and he emphasized that he is reviewing the case with input from both sides. “I’ll act on it,” he said. He also protested that my reporting on the case, which led to widespread calls for DNA testing, was one-sided and had “left out a number of elements.”
There has been another important development in the Cooper case. A witness has provided a sworn declaration describing a confession by Lee to the killings, committed with two other named individuals, according to Cooper’s defense counsel, Norman C. Hile. The name of the witness is being kept confidential for now for the protection of the witness, Hile said in a letter to the governor.
The 1983 killings — of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica, and an 11-year-old neighbor, Chris Hughes — were as barbaric a crime as one can imagine. Yet the horror of this crime will have been compounded if an innocent man has been framed for it.
Granted, maybe I’m wrong about this. So, governor, prove me wrong. Test the evidence. Settle the doubts.
I generally admire Brown and agree with him on most issues. But I’m mystified, as are many of his friends, by his recalcitrance in the Kevin Cooper case. I’m glad that my May column finally got him to review options for DNA testing, but almost five months have elapsed and Cooper is still waiting.
Brown told me he wished that “people would take more of an interest” in criminal justice issues. Governor, here’s one such issue: Please show more interest yourself.
Writes for The New York Times.