Date: March 26, 2015
OCDA TO OPPOSE PAROLE OF INMATE WHO MURDERED 17-YEAR-OLD STUDENT AS SHE SLEPT ON PROM NIGHT IN 1991
SANTA ANA – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is opposing the parole of a man who shot and murdered a 17-year-old high school student on prom night while she was sleeping in her hotel room. Paul Crowder, 42, is currently being held at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy. Crowder was sentenced Nov. 1, 1991, to 15 years to life in state prison and an additional four years for the personal use of a firearm. He is scheduled for a parole hearing tomorrow, Friday, March 27, 2015, at 8:30 a.m., at the prison before the Board of Parole Hearings (Board), California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos is attending the hearing to oppose Crowder’s parole. In 2010, the Board granted Crowder parole. On Nov. 12, 2010, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger invoked his authority to reverse the Board’s decision to grant Crowder parole for various reasons including lack of insight and responsibility of the murder.
On March 31, 2011, the Anaheim Police Department sent a letter to the Board in opposition of Crowder’s parole. On Oct. 19, 2011, the Board granted Crowder parole. On Nov. 4, 2011, California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. invoked his authority to reverse the Board’s decision to grant parole for the inmate for various reasons including the inmate’s dishonesty about the murder, failure to accept responsibility, and participating in illegal activity in prison.
On Sept.19, 2012, Crowder was initially denied parole for five years by the Board. After Crowder was denied parole, The California Court of Appeals, Fourth Appellate Division, District Three, overruled Gov. Brown’s reversal from 2011 and reinstated a parole date for the inmate. Based on Crowder’s recent serious prison violations, the Board will hold a hearing to determine whether or not to rescind their earlier decision of granting Crowder parole.
Murder of Berlyn Cosman
On June 1, 1991, Crowder, then 19 years old, attended a prom-night party at the Sterling Crown Suites Hotel in Anaheim, where a group of students had booked three suites. Crowder was not a student but had come with Kenneth Schaffer, the boyfriend of the victim. The victim, 17-year-old Berlyn Cosman, was an excellent student and had an athletic scholarship for college basketball. Crowder arrived at the party with beer and two firearms. He quickly became intoxicated and took out one firearm, waving it around and pointing it at various people. He threatened anyone who tried to stop him and threatened to shoot one of the partygoers in the buttocks.
Later in the evening, when he could not find someone to give him a ride home, Crowder approached Cosman and her boyfriend Schaffer, who were preparing to go to sleep in an adjacent hotel room. When Cosman refused to let Crowder sleep in the room, Crowder argued with her and then left the room cursing. Early in the morning, Crowder entered Cosman’s room, took out his firearm, waved it around laughing, and shot Cosman as she slept. Crowder fled the scene and hid the firearm in some bushes outside. He then went home to take a nap. He was arrested June 1, 1991, after an investigation by the Anaheim Police Department.
On Sept. 26, 1991, a jury convicted Crowder of second degree murder and the personal use of a firearm. He was sentenced Nov. 1, 1991, to 15 years to life in state prison and an additional four years for the personal use of a firearm.
Lack of Acceptance of Responsibility and Unreasonable Risk of Danger
Crowder has not taken responsibility for his crime and continues to show a lack of remorse. He maintains that the gun went off accidentally when he tripped as he was entering the hotel room. Despite evidence presented during his jury trial to the contrary, Crowder denies ever arguing with the victim that night or making threatening statements about wanting to kill the victim when she refused to let him sleep in her hotel room.
In the past year, Crowder has committed three serious prison violations which included conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, and possessing cell phone components in his cell. In 2011, a doctor completed a psychological report on Crowder and wrote her concern about the inmate’s alcohol addiction and lack of insight into the inmate’s capacity for violence. The report went on to discuss Crowder’s lack of insight into his capacity for violence and failing to fully acknowledge his own capacity for violence.
Crowder poses an unreasonable risk outside of prison based on his lack of insight into his actions and psychological motivations. If released, Crowder would be exposed to situations involving stress, alcohol, and instability which are the factors that led him to commit the murder and, therefore, he should not be released.