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Governor again blocks parole for killer of CV High student in '91

March 19, 2012|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For the second time, Gov. Jerry Brown has reversed a state decision to grant parole to a 39-year-old man who killed a 17-year-old Crescenta Valley High School student nearly 21 years ago.

In his March 16 decision, Brown stated that Paul Crowder, who is serving 15 years to life plus four years for killing Berlyn Cosman, has not showed remorse for the death following a post-prom party. Brown also contended Crowder continues to pose “a danger to society if released from prison.”

“His failure to accept responsibility by minimizing his culpability for the murder casts doubt over his claims of remorse and indicates that he has not truly learned from his mistakes,” Brown stated in his decision.

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Crowder has claimed that his gun accidentally fired on June 1, 1991 after a prom night party at the Sterling Crown Suites Hotel in Anaheim, fatally striking Berlyn in the head.

Crowder’s actions that night, his alleged involvement in illegal gang and drug trafficking in prison, combined and his inability to accept responsibility, demonstrated “there is no assurance that he does not remain prone to violence,” Brown said in his letter.

Brown’s decision came more than five months after Berlyn’s family and friends sent letters to stop Crowder’s release.

“What this proves is that a victim can prevail,” said Attorney Todd Spitzer, who represents the family.

The decision comes as a relief to Berlyn’s family, especially after their father, Mark Cosman, wrote in favor of Crowder’s release, he said.

Their father’s move meant Berlyn Cosman’s family had to fight “against all odds” to stop Crowder’s release, Spitzer said.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Board of Parole Hearings has twice granted Crowder’s release, finding him in June 2010 and October 2011 to be remorseful and actively working on improving himself through his participation in prison programs.

But in both cases, Brown has revoked parole for Crowder.

Berlyn’s sister, Morgan Cosman, said she wants Crowder to receive rehabilitation so he can accept his role in her sister’s death and understand the pain he caused to both families.

“It’s definitely a relief that he is going to remain in prison until he comes to term with what he did,” she said.

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