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Supreme Court Won't Delay Cooper Case

Lockyer had asked for more time before the murder case returned to federal court.

March 02, 2004|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined a request by the California attorney general to delay the return of convicted killer Kevin Cooper's case to federal court.

Because of that, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will mandate today that Cooper's case be moved to District Judge Marilyn Huff in San Diego. Huff has scheduled a conference call today with state prosecutors and Cooper's attorneys. Attorneys from both sides said they were uncertain which issues would be raised during the discussion.

Cooper, convicted in 1985 of four murders at a Chino Hills home in 1983, was less than 16 hours from execution Feb. 9 in San Quentin State Prison when the 9th Circuit issued a stay of execution that was affirmed that night by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit urged a review of evidence, including testing for blood preservative on a T-shirt with Cooper's blood on it that was found discarded along a road near the murder scene, along with mitochondrial testing of hairs found in a victim's hand.

"Whenever the Supreme Court takes an action, it's significant, and we remain hopeful that a renewed investigation and testing will be part of the [District Court] hearings," defense attorney David Alexander said.

Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer had asked the U.S. Supreme Court justices to wait until he could send them his appeal challenging the 9th Circuit's decision sparing Cooper -- and to rule on that appeal -- before sending the case to Huff.

Lockyer, still pursuing that appeal, has until March 31 to do so. He argues that the 9th Circuit exceeded its authority because of the way it reached its decision in Cooper's favor.

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