Gov. Jerry Brown’s Christmas Eve acts of clemency captured the attention of reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who in 2018 emerged as a champion for the wrongly convicted.
The “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” star, who helped secure a presidential pardon for grandmother Alice Marie Johnson a week after her May 30 White House visit with President Trump, praised Brown’s order for new tests of physical evidence in the decades-old quadruple-murder conviction of Kevin Cooper.
“Just saw the press release from Governor Brown regarding Kevin Cooper! Such amazing news!” said a Monday tweet from the cosmetics maven, who along with husband Kanye West, has publicly taken interest in prison reform.
Kardashian retweeted the statement, which said that the outgoing California governor was directing “limited retesting of certain physical evidence in the case and appointing a retired judge as a special master to oversee this testing, its scope and protocols.”
Kardashian surprised fans and followers with her advocacy for criminal justice reform this year. First there was the White House visit lto advocate for Johnson, a woman serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. She worked with White House senior advisor and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to help persuade the president to commute Johnson’s sentence.
Then in September, Kardashian again visited the White House to discuss prison sentencing reform. At the meeting she also brought up the case of Chris Young, a Tennessee prisoner serving a life sentence on drug charges because of mandatory-sentencing regulations.
Some even credit Kardashian’s advocacy with passage of the First Step Act, the criminal justice reform bill signed earlier this month by Trump. CNN commentator Van Jones told TMZ, “If Kim Kardashian had not gone to the White House and talked to Donald Trump, we would not have passed this bill.”
“It started with Ms. Alice, but looking at her and seeing the faces and learning the stories of the men and women I’ve met inside prisons I knew I couldn’t stop at just one,” Kardashian tweeted about her September visit to the White House. “It’s time for REAL systemic change.”
The California case against Cooper dates back to 1983 when a mother, father, their 8-year-old daughter and an unrelated 11-year-old boy were found gruesomely stabbed to death in a Chino Hills home. Cooper had escaped from prison in Chino two days before the killings and was arrested about seven weeks later.
He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1985, but the case was appealed hours before his scheduled execution in 2004.
Brown’s legal staff has been digging into Cooper’s 2016 clemency petition; meanwhile, Cooper, who has lost more than a dozen appeals, has maintained his innocence and claimed that law enforcement planted evidence and ignored statements by witnesses that pointed to other possible suspects.