It Doesn’t Matter by Kevin Cooper

I, Kevin Cooper, a forty-one-year old African American, am writing this from death row at San Quentin Prison. Though I am not trying to offend anyone in this writing, I must speak the truth. A truth that most Americans do not want to acknowledge or admit. I like ninety percent of all inmates on death rows across this country, am on death row because I was convicted of murdering white people and was sentenced to die for it. This is part of the problem which I now face in trying to prove that I am indeed innocent of the murders that I was found guilty of in 1985.

No one, especially the conservative California courts, wants to hear about my innocence, and in fact these courts have done everything not to learn the truth about my case so that I can be executed in the name of their justice. To these people, and to those who support the penalty of death, the bottom line is four white people were murdered, and I was found guilty by a jury of my so-called peers, and I must die. It doesn’t matter that I was convicted by circumstantial evidence, nor does it matter that a great deal of evidence has recently come to light that the jury who found me guilty never heard, or knew about. It doesn’t matter that we have discovered evidence that the sheriff’s department ordered destroyed evidence that was given to them by a white woman who told them who the real murderers are. The jury never heard about this, or from that woman, but that makes no difference to the people who want me dead. It also doesn’t matter to them that the detective who claimed to have found a pinhead drop of blood at the crime scene that was said to be mine was later arrested and kicked off the force for stealing five pounds of heroin from the sheriff’s evidence locker. It doesn’t matter that the drop of blood which the sheriff’s criminalist said was used up in testing in 1983 was found to be still in existence, enough to be DNA tested, testing that the state attorney general doesn’t want to take place. Nor does it seem to matter that the district attorney who tried my case used a criminalist who two years prior to testifying in my case was proven to be a fraud, but the jury who convicted me didn’t know this. Nor did the jury see autopsy photos of the victims clutching blond hair in their hands. And since I am a black man with kinky curly hair, and not straight, long, blond hair, that hair could not have come from me. But the jury in my case who found me guilty by circumstantial evidence never learned about any of the things that I have mentioned in this writing. So I ask you this: if that jury could have learned of these things, and other things that my appeal attorneys and investigators have found out, do you think that I would be on death row today? Most of the things that I speak of were known by the district attorney and sheriff’s department back in 1985 at the time of my trial. They either lied to my trial attorney who was a public defender, or they hid evidence from him because they knew he was inexperienced in multiple murder cases. All that matters now to this California court system is finality, which means my murder, my execution, my death, and all the rest doesn’t mean anything. To them, the end justifies the means. It doesn’t matter to them that they are going to kill an innocent man. All that matters to them is that I, Kevin Cooper, was made to look like the worst kind of black man who ever walked this earth. To the police, the prosecutors and the politicians involved, a black man who willingly kills white men, white women and white children must be killed, whether it’s the truth or a story of their own invention.