In June 1983, Doug and Peggy Ryen, their ten-year-old daughter and a 11-year-old house guest were brutally murdered in Chino Hills, California. Two days before, Kevin Cooper had escaped from a nearby prison and hid in a vacant house 125 yards below the murdered family's hilltop house. After the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department established that he had ben there, it focused on him as the lone assailant despite numerous eyewitness reports that implicated three white men as the perpetrators.
Kevin Cooper was convicted of the murders in 1985 and has been on Death Row at San Quentin since then. SCAPEGOAT shows how the sheriff's office and the District Attorney's office of San Bernardino County framed him for the horrific murders and how the justice system has failed him at almost every turn in his long, drawn-out appeal process. As O'Conner's shocking but thorough investigation shows, the sheriff's department discarded information that pointed at other suspects, destroyed evidence that exculpated Cooper and planted evidence that implicated him. If it were not for a court-ordered moratorium on executions in California over the lethal injection controversy, Cooper-with no appeals remaining-would have been executed. SCAPEGOAT-THE CHINO HILLS MURDERS AND THE FRAMING OF KEVIN COOPER-J. Patrick O'Conner