Kevin Cooper

I was listening to Stacy Taylor on KOGO one evening, and the topic of Kevin Cooper was up for discussion. Stacy, who'm I'd previously considered very well informed, rational, reasonable and intelligent was on a tirade about this "scum bag". He went on about how quickly Kevin should be "fried" and how "worthless" a human being he was. You get the idea. At the time I listened, my heart pounded at the horror of the crime and a personal desire to see the perpetrator suffer a prompt and horrific death. Hell yeah, you go, Stacy!

Several days later I did a search on "Kevin Cooper". I expected to see the normal ACLU rants and NAACP propoganda that goes along with any death penalty case in which a black or hispanic is involved. I expected results leading me to Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

But that's not what I found. I found articles outlining various purported facts about the case. Now I'm not vouching for the credibility of any of these sources, but as I read the same exact information coming from various sources, I began to consider the possibility that these "facts" may indeed be factual.

But the facts I'm talking about are nearly impossible to comprehend. You can't believe both this set of facts and the fact that Kevin is still on death row at the same time. My psychology professor called this "cognitive dissonance" - when you come to believe in two facts or ideas that can't possibly both be true at the same time. For example, if you grew up being told that all apples were red and then one day were given an apple that was green, you would have to make a decision: either this green apple was not an apple; or, what you were originally taught was wrong. Most folks will decide that a green apple is, in fact, not an apple, unable to abandon long held beliefs.

Likewise, I (and probably others) cannot believe that police and lawyers and jurors and judges could ever allow an obviously innocent man to go to the gas chamber. So we disregard any and all evidence to the contrary because it must be wrong.

Personally, I usually find it easy to abandon things that I've long held true if someone presents me with a "green apple". And as I read more and more about this case, I began to question more and more the integrity of the conviction.

If even a handful of the claims I'm referring to are true, Kevin Cooper is not "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" even by Bill Clinton's dictionary.

I have been a strong believer in the death penalty. But I've realized that this belief has a major flaw: my presumption that everyone on death row is guilty. There have been some awesome stories of death row inmates being cleared by DNA and other evidence. It is proven that inmates on death row are not always guilty. And is it worth risking the life of one innocent man to kill 1 truly guilty man? No? How many guilty men would it take to justify the taking of a single innocent life. I can't answer that. There is no correct answer to that question. Would you die so that 1 guilty man would be put to death?

Well, I can't support the death penalty after the results of my latest thinking on the topic. And I would consider it unconscionable to put to death Kevin Cooper given the overwhelming amount of doubt in his case.

I won't go in to all of these various "doubts" here. Instead, I'd suggest you'd read this this summary of the case or any of the countless websites dedicated to freeing Kevin Cooper.

And as far as Stacy Taylor goes? He's lost all my respect. He is just another ranting talk show host who pretends to work with facts but in reality simply excretes his personal biases. Shame on you Stacy.

I'd appreciate it if you'd post a comment here after reading some of these articles. I'd like to know if others have the same reaction to this situation that I did.



A macabre flight of fancy from a much darker, but just universe, a mirror of our own…

Employed for 35 years at San Quentin correctional facility, I, Frank Gonzalez, chief executioner, was called from my post on death row to the warden’s office on a late February afternoon.

“Good afternoon Frank, Kevin Cooper’s execution date is coming up,” said the warden after I entered his office, he looking up to me. A memo, faxed from the California Parole Review Board, sat on his desk.

“Good afternoon, Cooper’s the guy who used a hatchet on those poor folks down in Chino,” I replied, taking a seat in front of his desk.

“Yup, along with a knife and an ice pick,” said the warden. He cracked a smile, chuckled and added, “I’d say your job’s cut out for you, so to speak.”

I laughed. “The biohazard suit was covered in gore from the Morales execution, did the trustees get it clean?”

“Sure, they used perchlorate on it down in the prison laundry, you know, like when one dry-cleans a tuxedo.”

“Oh yeah, that takes out blood easily.”

The welcome date came quickly. I arrived at the deathhouse at 9:00 PM, eager to execute Kevin Cooper, a vicious killer of women and children. I was greeted by an upbeat Lieutenant Jones, he handing me the execution tools.

“Any word on the clemency appeal?” I asked while examining the immaculately clean biohazard suit, a brand-new Sears Craftsman hatchet with a red fiberglass handle, and a Hansen rattail file machined into an icepick by trustees from the prison machine shop. A Ginsu knife sat on the table, the same knife I had used on Michael Morales. It had been remachined, honed and sharpened to a razor’s edge, even the broken tip reshaped; the knife brilliantly polished.

“Nope, everybody figures Schwarzenegger’s so disgusted with the facts of this case that he won’t even respond to Cooper’s appeal, that bastard killed an entire family, even kids, in cold blood.”

“Yeah, I know, so it’s a pocket veto huh?”

“That’s about it, Cooper’s going to be terminated tonight,” said a confident Jones.

At 9:35, the Governor responded from his office in Sacramento via fax, officially denying clemency to condemned inmate Kevin Cooper, the signature of Arnold Schwarzenegger at the bottom of the document.

“Then it’s set,” said the warden, “Advise the condemned that our man Frank’s going to kill him with a hatchet, among other things, tonight at 12:01 in the deathchamber. Have him order his last meal and the like, and summon a priest, witchdoctor, rabbi or whatever the hell that evil bastard believes in, if anything.”

“Right,” said a pleased Lieutenant Jones, turning and leaving the office.

Inmate Kevin Cooper was informed that his time had run out by Lieutenant Jones. Ordering fried chicken, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, coffee and an entire sugarbaby watermelon for his last meal, Cooper protested as the food was served that he was a devout Christian, was innocent of the murders, and that white racism was the real motive for his execution.

“Yeah, that’s just about the same damn thing that senile half-breed injun said in January before we killed his innocent ass and dumped his carcass outside the prison walls, except for the Christianity part,” a smirking Jones replied.

A Baptist minister called in at the request of Cooper stared at Jones in disbelief as the officer, laughing at the unfolding situation, walked from the condemned’s cell.

At 11:04 PM, I was called to the warden’s office.

“We have a problem Frank,” said the warden, “Video cameras have been set up in the deathchamber, so the relatives of his victims may see that justice was served in the privacy of their homes, on their television sets.”

“Yes, I saw technicians installing them this evening, what’s the problem?”

The warden sighed. “From now on there’ll be a video record of all executions, on orders of the governor. Cooper’s execution is to take fifteen minutes so that he will suffer for his crimes. If you use the hatchet on him first he’ll probably be dead before the appointed time is up. Point is, if we don’t do this right, Schwarzenegger and the Parole Review Board will have my ass. Do you have any suggestions?”

I looked at the warden. His face was somber; the burden of responsibility fell heavily on his shoulders, a good and just man I had known for the past 35 years. He looked to me for an answer that would extricate him for this dire predicament that the fates had forced upon him. Here, behind his polished oak desk, sat a friend in need. I, the chief executioner of San Quentin, and godfather of the warden’s eldest son, could never let such a man down.

“According to the directive of 21 January, there is no set procedure for executions, as long as they generally follow the methods employed by the condemned,” I began, “So, with your permission, I’ll use the icepick on him first, then the blade, and finish him off with the hatchet.”

The warden smiled and offered his hand, which I shook firmly. “You’re a damn good friend Frank, thank you. I considered that, but, as chief executioner, I needed your opinion.”

“No problem, just show me the death warrant,” I answered, releasing from the handshake. “First, I’ll stab Cooper with the icepick, then I’ll cut him up with the blade, and for the finale, I’ll hack him to death with the hatchet.”

“Yes, he must feel the pain of his victims; it is not torture.”

“Of course not, the idea of torturing the condemned is disgusting,” I replied, my strict moral outlook coming to the surface, “We, as duly sworn representatives of the State of California, are only following the will of the people, the Parole Review Board, and the governor.”

“Exactly,” said the warden.

At 11:54, Kevin Cooper was dragged in, kicking and screaming, protesting his innocence. Breaking free for a moment, he punched a smiling Lieutenant Jones in the face, knocking him to the floor.

“I’ll beat you to death before Gonzalez does anything to you, you murdering nigger!” exclaimed an angered Jones, lunging at Cooper from the floor.

“That’s enough of that Lieutenant Jones,” said the warden sharply while other guards held the officer back, “Racism toward the condemned cannot be tolerated, consider yourself on report.”

“But warden, Cooper punched him, I think he deserved to be called a nigger for that,” the assistant warden observed while the condemned was dragged into the death house.

“Yeah he did, didn’t he,” said the warden, “Sorry about that Jones, forget it.”

“Sure,” said Jones, rubbing his jaw and resuming his post as an execution witness for the state.

After a brief struggle, Cooper was strapped tightly into the deathchair while I finished putting on the biohazard suit. The execution tools had been placed on a nearby table. Shortly thereafter trustees closed and locked the door to the death house.

“It’s 11:59, you have two minutes Frank,” said the warden over the intercom.

I nodded, reaching for the makeshift icepick. Clutching it in my right hand, through the glove I felt the wooden handle. Looking to the condemned, I determined that I would use it on his extremities, to assure prolongation of his agony.

“Time’s up, get to work on inmate Cooper,” said the warden over the intercom.

“You fuckin evil screw!” yelled Cooper.

“Eat this, you murderous prick,” I answered, piercing his prison uniform and shoving the sharpened file deep into his left thigh.

Screams of agony came from the condemned while I applied just punishment to his arms and legs, fifteen wounds in all, punctuated by foul and abusive language coming from the mouth of Kevin Cooper.

“You muthafucka, if I could only get outta dis chair – “

“You can’t, so fuck off,” I replied, punching him in the face with all my strength, knocking out two of his front teeth.

“That’s enough Frank, back off for five, let him suffer for his crimes,” said the warden, holding up his hands.

“Right,” I answered, moving from Cooper. Blood covered the legs and arms of the condemned, he moaning in pain and muttering racial epithets, calling me “spic” and “whitey”.

“I’m a spic, get your facts straight nigger,” I retorted.

“It’s 12:06, time for phase two, cut him up executioner, and make him feel it,” said the warden over the intercom.

“Yes sir,” I answered, slicing deep wounds into his arms and legs, screams of terror coming from the condemned while I slashed one of his calves to the bone with the razor-sharp Ginsu, flesh from his right leg falling to the floor of the Green Room.

“Time’s 12:09, hold for ten,” said the warden after I finished this phase of the execution.


“The hatchet’s going to kill him pretty quick,” said the warden after taking a sip of coffee, “It has to take at least fifteen minutes, so, relax and wait for ten.”

After five minutes, Kevin Cooper passed out from the pain and blood loss.

“Wake that bastard up!” the warden exclaimed, trustees entering the deathchamber with smelling salts.

“Wake up you evil son of a bitch!” I yelled while the trustees shoved shattered glass vials of ammonium carbonate up his nose.

Cooper awoke and exclaimed, “You cruel spic, I hope you burn in hell for what you’re doin to me!”

“I’m only following orders from the State of California, you’ll burn before I ever will,” I replied, reaching for the hatchet.

“It’s 12:19, make him feel it Frank, and make it long,” advised the warden.

“With pleasure,” I answered, burying the sharp hatchet in his tethered left forearm, slicing through the bones and severing the appendage; the blade becoming stuck in the deathchair from the force of the blow, bending the steel beneath. Cooper screamed in exquisite torment and stared in horror at his amputated hand, the pinkie finger twitching in its death throes. “Goddamnit!” I exclaimed, wrenching the hatchet from the chair as blood squirted from the condemned onto my biohazard suit.

“The blade on the hatchet’s too sharp,” said the coroner, “These procedures are much too labor intensive, we should just gas them slow with cyanide like we did in the sixties.”

“Yeah, we’ll have to dull it a bit next time,” the warden agreed, ignoring the latter part of the coroner’s remark while I hacked off Cooper’s right leg below the knee, more screams of agony coming from the condemned. As with Michael Morales, a vial of ammonium carbonate shot from the bloody nose of Cooper and landed in a pool of blood on the floor.

“Hell, if I were Frank I’d use an axe on that bastard,” said Lieutenant Jones, the warden and others breaking into laughter.

“Fuck you, I’m innocent!” screamed Cooper, delirious from the pain, one vial of ammonium carbonate jammed in his sinus keeping him conscious.

“Yeah, I suppose it was your evil twin’s DNA at the scene of the crime,” I answered, deftly chopping off his right hand with the Craftsman hatchet. The remains of his arms wildly waving about, gore squirted over my face shield, giving the Green Room a crimson appearance. Disgusted, I wiped the shield with an arm of my biohazard suit and then buried the hatchet deep in his chest.

Having finally run out of blood, Kevin Cooper died in agony, just like his victims did, the warden congratulating me in the death house on my ingenuity with regard to the execution of condemned prisoners.

The coroner looked to the remains of the condemned and felt his neck for a pulse. Finding none, he pronounced the time of death at 12:26 AM, PST.

“Governor Schwarzenegger and the Parole Review Board will be pleased,” the warden said with a smile, motioning over trustees to remove the body and clean the deathchamber.

“I hope so,” I replied, removing the blood-covered biohazard suit and looking to my friend, the warden of San Quentin State prison.

“You know, we’re going to have to fix that arm on the deathchair before the next execution,” the warden continued as we headed to his office with the coroner to fill out the death certificate.