Looking at the legal contortions that Attorney General Janet Reno had to go through to find Carl Derek Cooper, accused lone gunman in the Starbucks murders, eligible for the death penalty as a corrupt conspirator under the RICO act, even the most gullible reader of our Washington propaganda rags has got to begin to get suspicious.
What is being attempted here could hardly be more obvious. We may call it the James Earl Ray gambit. The purpose is to avoid a trial because the evidence is extremely weak. The defendant will be strongly encouraged to accept an offer of life in prison in exchange for a guilty plea. The Washington Times (2-8-00) gives us the precedent: "Federal prosecutors in the District have only twice before sought the death penalty. Both defendants pleaded guilty in exchange for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole before going to trial." They're going for a third.
For his part, Cooper has seen how the system has been manipulated against him up to this point, so he is not likely to have the confidence to bet his life that the trial will be fair. Already a judge has ruled admissible the toughest "evidence" he will have to face in a trial, the self-incriminating statement he made without the presence of a lawyer after marathon questioning. To Carl Cooper, the deck must look to be pretty well stacked against him at this point.
The feds obviously need someone badly to take the rap for the murders of Mary Caitrin Mahoney, Emory Allen Evans, and Aaron David Goodrich. From the beginning the smell reminded one of the Vincent Foster case. There was, of course, the greatly underplayed White House connection, with Mahoney having worked as a Clinton intern. And there was also the willingness of the news media to accept without question the immediate police take on things, an "apparent suicide" in one case, and an "apparent botched robbery" in the other, when in neither instance was it the least bit apparent. Such extreme media cooperativeness from the beginning should make anyone suspicious.
Then there has been the ongoing participation of the media in the cover-up as I chronicle in "America's Dreyfus Affair, the Case of the Death of Vincent Foster" in one instance and "Starbucks Fall-Back Fall Guy" and "Starbucks Suspect Recanted before Confession Announced" in the other. That behavior continued when Reno announced her death penalty decision. In both the Washington Post and the Washington Times it was front-page news above the fold. Both papers also gave Cooper's "confession" big play.
"Mr. Cooper told police he killed the three employees when Miss Mahoney began fighting with him after he demanded money from the coffee shop's safe. He said he shot Miss Mahoney during the struggle, then killed Mr. Evans and Mr. Goodrich to prevent them from identifying him," wrote Jim Keary in the Feb. 8 Times. Nowhere this time does he or Bill Miller in the Post tell us that Cooper recanted this confession as soon as he was out of the clutches of the Prince George's County Maryland police. That revelation, we have previously noted, was buried away in a small, inside article in the Metro section of both papers. One can safely assume that virtually no one in the Washington area knows about the recantation. In the TV report I heard on NBC affiliate, WRC Channel 4, the crime was described matter-of-factly as a botched robbery. A friend said he heard a radio report in which it was said simply that Cooper "did this" and "did that" as if it were already a proven fact.
Finally, in both instances, we have the very active role of the FBI. They may have played it down in the Foster case, but, at least, it was clearly their job there. The law required that they take the lead role in the investigation of a suspicious death at Foster's level. But the police keep insisting in the Starbucks case that it s nothing but a garden variety robbery gone sour. So why are they making a federal case out of it, and why is it the business of the FBI?
February 9, 2000
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