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Family split over father's support of killer

Dad approves of parole of man who shot his daughter. His wife, other daughters do not.

October 30, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Family members of a 17-year-old Crescenta Valley High School student shot to death in 1991 say they disagree with her father’s support of a state decision to grant parole to her killer.

Mark Cosman wrote in support of granting parole to his daughter’s killer, Paul Crowder, a blessing that factored heavily in the decision of the state parole board’s recommendation. But other family members of the slain girl, Berlyn Cosman, say they were never consulted and have initiated a letter-writing campaign to the governor in an effort to stop Crowder’s release.

Crowder was convicted to 15 years to life, plus four years, for shooting Berlyn Cosman in the head on June 1, 1991 as she slept in her room after a prom night party at the Sterling Crown Suites Hotel in Anaheim.

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Crowder, who was 19 at the time, has claimed the shooting was unintentional and the gun accidentally fired when he waved it around.

Berlyn’s sisters say they don’t want him released because, they said, he hasn’t taken responsibility for the shooting death.

“I was just pretty blown away by my dad,” Morgan Cosman said. “Our family is totally against this. We are trying to get people to write letters.”

The family said Mark Cosman’s actions may adversely impact their letter-writing campaign and final plea to Gov. Jerry Brown to keep Crowder behind bars.

Berlyn’s father acknowledged that his views don’t represent his entire family.

“I do not speak for my family,” he said. “They have taken a different approach that I understand and fully support.”

But in exchanging letters with Crowder, who is incarcerated at the Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, for several years, Mark Cosman said “a person emerged from the murderer.”

“In the years following Berlyn’s murder, I was forced to live without an answer as to why Paul Crowder killed her,” he said. “The anguish and gnawing confusion was devastating, so I reached out to Paul, the only one who had the answers. It is not that I forgave him by doing so — rather, I wanted answers.”

Mark Cosman, who wrote a book about dealing with his daughter's murder, sent a letter to state corrections officials, stating that he didn’t believe Crowder would harm anyone.

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