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Teen Describes Last Seconds of Girl's Life

September 11, 1991|CATHERINE GEWERTZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — The teen-ager who was sleeping next to high school basketball star Berlyn Cosman when she was fatally shot on prom night choked back tears Tuesday as he described seeing Paul M. Crowder, the man accused of shooting her, looming in the doorway just after the fatal shot was fired.

Kenny Schaffer, who took Cosman to the Crescenta Valley High School prom, detailed the last moments of Cosman's life in an Anaheim hotel, where about two dozen teen-agers had been drinking and socializing all night after the dance.

In a related development, Deputy Dist. Atty. Christopher J. Evans disclosed in court--outside the presence of the jury--that Crowder is under investigation for carrying a weapon at another party and at a softball game and for firing shots into a gay bar in West Hollywood. He would provide no further details, but said evidence might be presented late in the case.

The defense attorney, E. Bonnie Marshall, said she had not known of the allegations and declined to comment until she has had a chance to investigate the matter.

On the second day of Crowder's murder trial in Orange County Superior Court, Schaffer, 17, told the jury that he was sleeping next to Cosman on a fold-out couch just before dawn on June 1 when the door opened, light streamed in and Javier Pimentel, a friend of Crowder's, came into the room.

A moment later, Crowder appeared in the doorway with a revolver, but Schaffer said he "didn't think anything of it" because Crowder had been waving the weapon all night. Schaffer said he put his head back down on the mattress, but seconds later, he heard a gunshot.

Panic ripped through the room. As Pimentel snapped on the light, Schaffer bolted upright in bed, saying, "Where'd it go?"

"I looked down and I seen the blood coming from her," Schaffer testified. "(I said) 'She's been shot, she's been shot.' . . . I had a towel on Berlyn's head. I was yelling at her to breathe."

Schaffer said that as he picked up the phone to summon help he heard Crowder say to his friend, Javier, "We gotta go, Jav."

Crowder, 19, who played football for the La Crescenta school but dropped out of school, allegedly killed Cosman after becoming angry when she and a friend, Jill Cappillero, refused to let him party in the suite where they were trying to sleep.

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