Dudley framed them because they were Negroes with records. He knew there would be no questions asked.
--Officer Ed Exley in LA Confidential
Just how weak is the government's case against Carl Derek Cooper, the 30-year-old black man accused in the July 6, 1997, triple slaying at the Starbucks in Georgetown? It is so weak that one of the nation's capital's two house organs, The Washington Times, the one that pretends to oppose President Bill Clinton, felt the need on August 16, in a lead editorial presenting highly selective and prejudicial evidence, virtually to scream for Cooper's execution. "Death and Carl Derek Cooper" they chose for the title knowing that if they truly were to characterize the words that followed and call it "Death to Carl Derek Cooper" they would come off sounding like an uncivilized lynch mob. The tricksters at the Times, when the occasion calls for it, can mince words with the best of them.
Consider how the editorial begins:
The last time there was an execution in the nation's capital was
1957 (they say with apparent nostalgia), and, while federal prosecutors have had the legal authority since 1970 to seek the death penalty in a number of cases, only two are familiar to most. One such case was the ruthless Edmond drug organization, which terrorized the city during the 1980s. The other is the 1997 triple slaying at the Starbucks shop in Georgetown.
According to a 48-count federal indictment returned Aug. 4, Carl Derek Cooper was the leader of a small but violent band of urban criminals which plied its brand of death and mayhem from Harrisburg, Pa. to the District of Columbia. Besides the Starbucks killings, Mr. Cooper is charged with killing a D.C. security guard and with various weapons and robbery offenses.
In short, it appears they have tried to hang about every unsolved crime in a three-state area on young Mr. Cooper and The Times is eager to have us believe that he is guilty of every one of them. After reminding us of the violence of Rayful Edmond and company, they follow with:
|Now comes the Cooper gang, apparently run by a man who has been involved in the criminal justice system since 1988. Mr. Cooper appears to be a small-time operator. But examine the record and you may think otherwise. For the most part, the gangs preferred crime appeared to be evening and weekend robberies. Their targets were mostly small, unsuspecting businesses, although the robbers did net $11,000 in a 1996 bank heist in Bethesda. Mr. Cooper is also accused of killing a security guard (a second reminder, ed.) and of shooting a police officer in addition to robbing small eateries. Yet Mr. Cooper's notoriety rests with one case in particular, and that is the 1997 Starbucks triple slaying.|
Let's stop right here and have a more sober look. If this be a gang, where are the gang members? Not a single other person has, as yet, been named. Originally, they were telling us that the botched robbery was Cooper's distinguishing M.O., the big thing that the cop shooting and the Starbucks killing, as they have fashioned it, had in common. Now there's just the sort of man you want leading your gang. And the way Cooper let himself be maneuvered into implicating himself in the Starbucks caper doesn't remind one in the least of the shrewd and worldly Edmond, a man who managed to continue running his large drug operation for some time after he had been sent up the river.
I know it's impertinent to ask, but where is the evidence for this Cooper crime spree? We have been told nothing of any of it except some very unconvincing stuff on the Starbucks murders and the cop shooting. Is it possible that they are withholding that from us because it is even weaker than what we have been told they have on him in those two crimes. Is it possible for evidence to be weaker? The evidence against him in the 4 a.m. shooting of the off-duty policeman in a car with his girlfriend in Hyattsville, Md., in 1996, from what we have been able to gather, is that a pistol was found at the scene with fingerprints on it. Were they Cooper's? No. They belonged to someone else, whom the police were able to trace, and that man, who has not been named or charged with anything, implicated Cooper. Then this guy, who must approach Edmond in IQ, really tossed the cops a juicy bone (if the police can be believed on this; a big if) by telling them that the hapless Cooper had mentioned participating in the Starbucks killings. Yes, it's in the Washington Times of March 5, 1999.
Just think about this for a minute. Of all the numerous crimes with which Cooper has been charged, we have been told of only one solid piece of tangible evidence, a gun with fingerprints on it, and those fingerprints don't belong to Cooper. Rather, the owner of those prints was somehow able to "implicate" Cooper and take the heat off himself, for a one-man robbery, at that. Maybe he's even smarter than Edmond.
Back to the editorial:
|Mr. Cooper confessed to police in March, when he was arrested and questioned about several robberies. During the interrogation, police officials say, Mr. Cooper told them he shot the three employees because they resisted his attempts to rob the coffee shop. He pulled out a pistol and shot the night manager, then whipped out a second and continued shooting until all three were dead. Afterward, Mr. Cooper told police, he did his bloodstained laundry and buried the guns on the grounds of a home for teen mothers in Hyattsville. The guns have yet to be found, and Mr. Cooper's defense attorney has said there really is no hard evidence to link him to the killings.|
See what we mean about the selective presentation of evidence. Let's look at how the "confession" unfolded. We first heard of Carl Derek Cooper in a March 2, 1999, front-page article in The Times entitled "Suspect questioned in Starbucks killings." Cooper had been picked up on a warrant for the shooting of the policeman and the familiar "sources close to the investigation" were telling us that the police believe, for no reasons yet given, that he was one of the Starbucks killers, although he had not yet been charged with that.
Officer [Bruce] Howard was with a woman in his own car about 4 a.m. Aug. 12, 1996, when a gunman approached. He robbed the woman and the officer and shot the officer in the back.
The Starbucks killings and the shooting of Officer Howard are similar in that they were both botched robberies.
Really? They just got through telling us that the man actually did rob both the woman and the officer, and the Starbucks shooting has never looked liked anything so much as a merciless contract killing from day one to anyone willing to think for himself. The constant repetition of the mantra, "botched robbery" does not make it so. In fact, from the beginning nothing has been more suggestive of high-level skulduggery than the immediate and then continuous description of the crime as an apparent botched robbery in the face of highly-suggestive evidence to the contrary. Also heightening suspicion is the extremely sparing and incidental mention of the fact that the apparent primary target of the shooter or shooters wrath, night manager Mary Caitrin (Caity) Mahoney, had been one of the original interns in the Clinton White House and that she was a Democratic Party activist. Since Monica Lewinsky's name became a household word, there has never been any mention at all in the mainstream press, to this writer's knowledge, of the two former interns names in the same breath, although the February 9, 1998, online Washington Weekly gives George Stephanopoulos as the source for their information that Monica used to hang out at the Starbucks where Caity worked.
The article continues:
|The FBI also is investigating whether Mr. Cooper was involved in armed robberies in Maryland and Pennsylvania, a FBI spokeswoman Susan Lloyd said. She could not give details or say whether there were similarities to the two shootings.|
The FBI? Wouldn t you know that they would find an excuse to get in on the act, although neither the police shooting nor the Starbucks killings violates a federal law. But the FBI is, indeed, very much into frame-ups. You can ask former Black Panther activist Geronimo Pratt in California or security guard Richard Jewell in Georgia about that. (For information on Pratt check out http://www.ldfla.org/goldin.html, or if you really want to become an expert on the case go to http://www.ldfla.org/ji_menu.html and survey the whole web site. Jewell, for his part, had the great good fortune of having a personal friend who was an honest and courageous lawyer who came to his rescue. But for that unlikely happenstance, he could well have been on his way to death row, although the recorded voice warning of the impending Olympic bombing for which he was charged was clearly not his.)
D.C. police have been pursuing strong leads in their investigation into the Starbucks killings for the past two months, including surveillance and wiretapping.
Mary Caitrin Mahoney, 24; Emory Allen Evans, 25; and Aaron David Goodrich, 18, were killed by at least two gunmen during a robbery after the coffee shop at 1810 Wisconsin Ave. NW closed for the day on July 6, 1997.
The next morning, a Starbucks employee discovered the bodies.
In the victims and the office, police found bullets and shell casings from a .38 caliber revolver and bullets and shell casings from a .38 caliber semiautomatic pistol. Because two guns were used to fire nine shots, investigators think two persons committed the slayings.
THE EMPLOYEES WERE CLEANING THE STORE, WHICH CLOSED AT 8 P.M. THE NIGHT THEY DIED. A CUSTOMER WHO THOUGHT THE STORE WAS STILL OPEN SAW THE CREW ALIVE AT 9:15 P.M., POLICE SAID." (ed: emphasis obviously added)
Investigators initially theorized the killings happened because Miss Mahoney--THE ONLY ONE WHO KNEW THE COMBINATION OF THE STORE'S SAFE--did not open it. But Mr. Evans was closest to the safe, and Miss Mahoney was farthest away." (ed: emphasis added again. And didn't they know where the bodies were lying from the beginning. So why the initial theory?)
"Also, police originally thought a bullet found in the ceiling was a warning shot. It now seems likely that it was fired as Mr. Evans struggled with his killer, sources said. The bullet was in the middle of the office, not above the safe contrary to earlier reports." (ed: Now where do you think those earlier reports came from if not from the police?)
During the struggle, one of the gunmen fired his pistol into Mr. Evans' left shoulder from point-blank range. As Mr. Evans fell, the killers shot him in the head and chest, sources said.
They killed him, and they had to kill everyone, a source said.
Miss Mahoney might have tried to back out of the office during the struggle. She was shot five times as she fell into the hallway outside the office. Mr. Goodrich died from a shot that passed through his left arm and settled in his chest.
After the shootings, the robbers picked the pockets of the victims and took whatever money they could find, sources said. They walked out the unlocked front door without touching the two registers filled with cash.
As consistently wrong as the anonymous sources have been, one must wonder why The Times keeps treating them like the Fount of Truth.
Then the case apparently broke wide open on March 4, 1999. The Times greeted us with big front-page headlines on the 5th, "Second Starbucks Suspect Held." With the sub-headline, "Arrested man was friend of slain worker in coffee shop." Further driving the nail in the coffin of the newly-arrested man is a large color photograph of some police standing by cars in front of a collection of red brick buildings with this caption, "In custody: Police presence is heavy at the Mount Rainier apartment complex where police arrested Keith Maurice "Boo" Covington."
The tone of the accompanying article is almost gleeful. Covington, a man with a criminal record including drugs, like Cooper, brings all of the pieces of the puzzle together.
Police investigators all along have thought that one of the slain Starbucks employees knew one of the killers and let them in, because the shop had been closed and officers found no sign of forced entry. During the botched robbery, Mr. Evans struggled and was shot in the shoulder and then the head..
A police source said investigators have no evidence any of the employees was part of the robbery.
We knew somebody knew someone inside because someone opened the door. It was locked. That was one of our theories, said a police source familiar with the investigation. We were never sure if they were active or passive participants [in the robbery].
One extra bit of salient information is dropped: "Conflicting reports indicated Mr. Cooper named a third man in the Starbucks killings, who may be in prison out of the region on an unrelated conviction."
For its part, The Washington Post is less cautious about the implicated third man. Their front-page headline, below the fold, reads "Detained Man Names 2 Others in Starbucks Case." But they are far less celebratory in their tone than The Times. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey is quoted, saying only that they "feel very good about the recent break" but that does not mean that they yet have enough evidence to file charges against the new suspects. More reason for caution is given in an accompanying article on the A26 continuation page. Its title reads ominously, "Lawyers Assail Lengthy Interrogation."
From this article we learn that police were still questioning Cooper 54 hours after he had been brought in for questioning, and he had still not been brought before any judicial officer of the county. "Under Maryland court rules," we are told, "police are required to present a defendant to a court commissioner without unnecessary delay and in no event later than 24 hours after arrest."
|It's outrageous. I don t care what spin anybody puts on it. I can t think of a set of circumstances where somebody should be held 54 hours and not talk to a lawyer, said Stephen A. Friedman, legal director of the [Prince George s] county chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. It s going to become an issue in the case. The police know if he talks to a lawyer, the discussion will probably end, and they want to keep it going. People are under psychological coercion to cooperate.|
No doubt they did, and no doubt he was. And look who was right in the thick of the questioning: "Cooper was arrested as a fugitive from Prince George s County about 6:30 p.m. Monday near his home in Northeast Washington, and then was questioned overnight at the FBI field office. He appeared in D.C. Superior Court about noon Tuesday, waived an extradition hearing and was taken immediately to Prince George s.
|Police declined to say how many hours Cooper had been questioned. Deputy Police Chief Clark Price said detectives have read him his rights--and he has waived his right to an attorney--at least five times.|
The next day Cooper s willingness to "cooperate" bears fruit, but not for him. "Cooper charged with Starbucks slayings" says the big headline at the top of the front page of the March 6, 1999, Washington Times. "Police clear, free second suspect, now say lone killer used 2 guns" says the sub-headline.
During interrogations by Prince George's investigators, Mr. Cooper admitted to being a party to a triple slaying at Starbucks but said he was not a gunman.
He implicated Keith Maurice "Boo" Covington, 32, of the 3300 block of Chauncey Place in Mount Rainier, who was arrested Thursday in connection with a federal firearms violation. But investigators released Mr. Covington early yesterday after determining he was not involved.
Cooper, it appears, thought he could play the same snitch game that the guy did who implicated him in the cop shooting, but something went wrong (for information on how the snitch game has replaced the establishment of guilt through the accumulation of evidence see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/snitch/. Covington, a black, must have had an alibi, because his presumed guilt was really a big help to the police, what with his acquaintance with the victim, Emory Evans, the only black among the three victims.
|A police source said authorities are not sure how Mr. Cooper got into the shop, which should have been locked because the employees were closing for the night. Police suspected at least one employee knew the killer, unlocked the door, and let the gunman in.|
Notice the subtle change. The employees weren t "closing for the night" they were closed for the night, as attested to by the witness who had been cited many times in the case, most recently by this same newspaper and one of the same reporters, Jim Keary, just four days before. Just the day before, in fact, the wording was "the shop had been closed." The reporter seems already to know the tack that will be taken to explain how Cooper got into the store, but memories are still a bit too fresh for it to be broached just yet.
Reading a couple of other Washington Times articles between the lines, articles written by others besides Keary, their main Metro crime reporter and principal reporter covering the case and therefore the one most dependent upon the police for his stories, is revealing. We get further indications of the great effort made to stick the Starbucks crime on Cooper in spite of the paucity of genuine evidence against him. The first, also on March 6, by Kristan Trugman, is entitled "PG, D.C., FBI united in probe of Cooper" with the subtitle "County held off to solve Starbucks case."
It begins this way:
|Prince George s County Police had enough evidence last summer to charge Carl Derek Cooper with shooting Officer Bruce Howard in 1996.|
The careful reader of all that has as yet been made public in the news may interpret that statement to say: When police finally arrested Carl Derek Cooper, they had no more evidence against him for the crime for which he was arrested, the shooting of a policeman, than they did some nine months before. That evidence consisted only of the word of one very questionable person. The evidence they had against him for the Starbucks shooting at the time of his arrest was even less, which is why he was not originally charged with that.
The article continues:
D.C. police and the FBI believed Mr. Cooper was involved in the high-profile Starbucks slayings in Georgetown. They wanted him out and about, so they could tap his phone, gather information and build a case against
The investigations began last year when Prince George s County police homed in on a man who was able to provide information about the police shooting and the Starbucks case, according to court documents and law enforcement sources.
D.C. officers and FBI agents soon talked to the man and began their own investigation, using wire taps and surveillance.
Neither police agency interviewed Mr. Cooper, but they kept close tabs on him at all times.
THE INVESTIGATION SHED LITTLE LIGHT ON THE STARBUCKS CASE, but provided evidence that may link Mr. Cooper to several other violent crimes, including homicides and armed robberies, law enforcement sources said." (ed: emphasis added. Now we see how they got their leverage over Cooper with respect to Starbucks. He has a known criminal record and the wiretapping apparently did reveal continuing criminal activity, just nothing whatever connected to Starbucks.)
Anxious to close their police shooting and concerned about public safety, Prince George s County police began about a month ago to turn up the heat on law enforcement in the District to wrap up the Starbucks investigation. On Monday night, agents (ed: of the FBI, obviously) and D.C. police arrested Mr. Cooper at his Northeast home on Gallatin Street.
INVESTIGATORS INTERROGATED MR. COOPER THROUGH THE NIGHT, BUT APPARENTLY HE PROVIDED THEM LITTLE, IF ANY, INFORMATION DURING THE LENGTHY INTERVIEWS. (ed: emphasis added. He didn't crack easily.)
Prince George s County police found the gun used to shoot Officer Howard, said Chief [John S.] Farrell, who wouldn t say if the gun was used in the Starbucks case. (ed: Of course it wasn't or they would have long since told us. Furthermore, the Howard shooting occurred a year before the Starbucks killings, and the gun had long been in police custody by that time.)
The next day, Sunday, March 7, 1999, the Metro section of The Times leads with "Starbucks suspect to face D.C. charges before PG case" by Ronald J. Hansen. The article begins with three short paragraphs essentially repeating what is in the headline and then we have this: "His prior criminal record--robbery, car theft and heroin use--as well as the violent nature of the Starbucks charges will ensure he remains behind bars as the case unfolds in court.
A conviction on even one of the charges he now faces would require a minimum 30-year prison sentence. Three convictions would mean life without possibility of parole.
But prosecutors will be the first to say a conviction is hardly ensured.
Wilma A. Lewis, U.S. Attorney for the District, joined Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey in pleading for the public to provide more information about the case."
Prosecutors in the Starbucks case will likely rely on witnesses to show that Mr. Cooper was known for committing robberies and using two guns in his crimes. Chief Ramsey said both city and county police were jointly investigating other crimes stemming from their information about Mr. Cooper.
D.C. police made Mr. Cooper their prime suspect in November 1997 after receiving an anonymous telephone tip. Working with the FBI, they had Mr. Cooper under surveillance for months." (ed: So now we learn the man the police "homed in on" apparently didn't even link Cooper to the Starbucks shooting, though we are led to believe by Kristan Trugman's article the day before that he did because she told us that that is why they began their surveillance of him. Tricky writing? Rather, the Starbucks linkage to Cooper was the work of an anonymous--even to police--telephone tipster. Hmm.)
By summer 1998, Prince George s police independently developed information linking Mr. Cooper to the slayings in their investigation of the Aug. 12, 1996, shooting of Bruce Howard, an off-duty officer.
A fingerprint on a gun left at the scene of that shooting matched that of a man apprehended in another case. He told police he was at the Howard shooting but Mr. Cooper--carrying two guns--fired the shot that wounded the lawman." (ed: leaving only the fingerprint of this informant on the weapon, it would appear)
The man also said Mr. Cooper had talked of being involved in the Starbucks slayings.
So here we are back to a man who has left fingerprints at one crime and has been apprehended for another, but is as yet unnamed and presumably uncharged with anything. His finger-pointing at Cooper for Starbucks would appear, at this point, to have rewarded him handsomely. If you didn t do it before, perhaps now is a good time for you to click on http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/snitch/
to see how things like this happen all the time under our "snitch" regime of jurisprudence.
On Thursday, March 18, 1999, it looks like the jig is finally up for Cooper. On that day, at the bottom of page 1 of The Washington Times, Jim Keary has an article entitled "Suspect admits to casing Starbucks before crime" in which Cooper appears to fess up to the whole Starbucks massacre. The article begins, "Carl Derek Cooper admitted to police investigators that he planned to rob a Georgetown Starbucks a month before he walked into the coffee shop and gunned down three employees during a botched robbery."
Well, there you have it don t you? Let's read on:
Mr. Cooper had gone to the coffee shop at 1810 Wisconsin Ave. NW numerous times--including the morning of the July 6, 1997, killings. He had picked the long Fourth of July weekend because he expected the business to have a large amount of cash. Mr. Cooper tried enlisting another man to help in the robbery but walked into the shop by himself brandishing two handguns, according to D.C. Superior Court records.
Police believe Mr. Cooper targeted the coffee shop because he learned about the shops brisk business either directly or indirectly from Emory Allen Evans, one of the slain employees." (ed: the black-to-black connection, you see)
He chose Sunday, July 6, 1997, as the date to commit the robbery with the expectations that the proceeds for the weekend s business would be on hand, according to the affidavit written by D.C. police Lt. Brian R. McAllister, in requesting an arrest warrant. That morning, he visited Starbucks in order to case it out and make sure that it was doing a brisk business.
So, what we have going on here is what a D.C. policeman says Cooper said when he was being interrogated by Prince George's police.
Investigators believe that [victim Emory] Evans may have told [released former suspect Keith "Boo"] Covington about the amount of business done at the coffee shop and that information got to Mr. Cooper. Mr. Covington told The Washington Times that he did not remember talking to Mr. Cooper about Starbucks, and Mr. Cooper told Prince George's County detectives that he had targeted the coffee shop without help from anyone.
After hours of questioning by D.C. police and FBI agents, Mr. Covington was released after they confirmed his alibi.
It must have been an ironclad alibi, and Boo Covington can be very, very thankful that he was able to remember where he was on the evening of July 6, 1997, and that it was confirmable beyond a shadow of a doubt. But for that stroke of luck, in all likelihood it would be his execution, even more than Cooper's, that The Washington Times would be crying for
editorially. Anyone reading their March 5 headline and accompanying articles could certainly detect the wind blowing very strongly in that direction at that time.
|According to the affidavit, police began investigating Mr. Cooper after a man told investigators that Mr. Cooper asked him if he would help him rob Starbucks because it was a good target for an armed robbery. The man agreed to help Mr. Cooper with the robbery, but Mr. Cooper never talked to him again.|
Now which original tipster was this man, we have to wonder. Was it the man that the police "homed in on" whose leads "shed little light on the Starbucks case," or was it the supplier of the "anonymous telephone tip," or was it the guy whose fingerprint was on the weapon left at the scene of the shooting of the policeman? Maybe we have a fourth originator here of police interest in Cooper. Or perhaps it was a fifth, if we may digress a bit. From the March 6, 1999, Washington Post article we have this:
A break in the case came last year when the television show America's Most Wanted repeated an episode about the slayings, law enforcement sources said. A woman who was dating someone who knew Cooper called D.C. police with a valuable tip: Cooper had told her boyfriend that he was the Starbucks killer.
The woman agreed to wear a wire for D.C. police and recorded her boyfriend's comments about Cooper's involvement. Prince George s police were simultaneously investigating Cooper in the shooting of an off-duty police officer. The two police departments worked with the FBI to build evidence against Cooper.
But, as we have seen, they didn't build very much, and weren't we told before by The Times that police interest in Cooper for the shooting of the policeman was, from the beginning, bundled with the Starbucks case by the word of the man with the incriminating fingerprint?
Now let's get back to the Keary article about the affidavit and Cooper's "confession."
|He...admitted in writing that he committed the murders at the Starbucks coffee shop on July 6, 1997, the affidavit said. (ed: ellipsis in the original)|
Recall that on March 5, the same day that complaints were registered about the rule-violating marathon questioning The Times said, "During interrogations by Prince George s investigators, Mr. Cooper admitted to being a party to a triple slaying at Starbucks but said he was not a gunman." The admission of guilt, then, if earlier reports are to be believed, would have had to have come after the ACLU had already raised hell about the 54 hours that Cooper had been held in custody and questioned without a lawyer present, so you can add however many more hours it took to get this out of him.
More Keary article, March 18, 1999: "Steven Kiersh, Mr. Cooper's court-appointed attorney, warned the court that his client should not be interviewed without him present. Mr. Kiersh would not comment about the charges against his client."
Talk about closing the barn door after the cows are out!
[Cooper] told detectives he parked his car in the rear of the coffee shop and walked into the store about 9 p.m. while the employees were closing up the shop. He admitted to carrying a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver and a .380 semiautomatic handgun with him.
A law enforcement source familiar with the investigation said the front door of the coffee shop was still unlocked when Mr. Cooper arrived and he walked in and pulled his guns.
He made her [Miss Mahoney] lock the door, the source said.
Mr. Cooper ordered Miss Mahoney to open the safe in the rear office of the store and, when she refused, he fired a shot into the ceiling from the .38 caliber revolver. Miss Mahoney ran from the office and Mr. Cooper caught her in the hallway and shot her with the .380 handgun and then stood over her and shot her in the face and upper body with both guns.
An autopsy showed that Miss Mahoney was shot five times.
Police say Mr. Cooper then turned toward Mr. Evans and Mr. Goodrich and shot them. Mr. Evans was still alive, so Mr. Cooper shot him twice in the head.
When he [Mr. Evans] continued to move and moan, Cooper shot him twice more in the head to put him out of his pain, the affidavit said.
The account of the crime as reported by The Washington Post on the same day featured only a few small differences. In The Post account, there is no mention of Cooper first having made Miss Mahoney lock the front door, and in this rendering he forces all three of the workers into the back office area where he demands that Miss Mahoney use her keys to unlock the safe. Most significantly, in the Post account, "Mahoney ran into the hall. Cooper caught her and wrestled her for the keys. She resisted and he shot her dead."
The Post also repeats once again its story of female viewer of "America's Most Wanted" who put the police onto Cooper in the first place.
What can we possibly make of such a story? In the first place, we have to wonder, whether it be true or not, what on earth would have got into Cooper to tell it. After first holding out and dummying up, he then fingers Covington and perhaps someone else, and when that doesn't pan out, we are told that he starts singing like a canary...against himself. Was the man suddenly smitten with a death, or at least a life imprisonment, wish? If he was, it could hardly be greater than the death wish they first told us that Emory Evans had, and now Caity Mahoney.
"Their money or your life," is what a menacing armed robber is, in effect, saying when he points a gun at you and tells you to open the company's safe. What unarmed person in his or her right mind would not in that situation respond, in effect, "I am at your service." Surely no one in the management of the Starbucks company would hold it against any employee responding in that way, and Caity Mahoney surely must have known it. I would not be surprised if they have circulated a policy statement to that effect, although it is hardly necessary. It is no more than common sense. No weekend's worth--even a holiday weekend's worth--of store receipts are worth a life, particularly when it's yours.
So first they were trying to sell us on the idea that the black guy was nuts, and now they are asking us to swallow that the young female former White House intern was nuts and precipitated her own slaying and the slaying of her young colleagues.
But if you have been paying any attention at all, you know that that is far from the worst of it for this story's credibility. With a single shooter and that being a man who was not known by any of the employees, we are back once again to the problem that Boo Covington, if it weren't for that cursed alibi, had solved so neatly for the FBI and the police. How did Cooper get into the locked store? Now the story is that he got in just before the 9:00 p.m. closing time. There have been conflicting accounts in the press of when closing time was, though, with the majority saying 8:00 p.m., which was also the last time reported by The Washington Times. That is something that they seem to have conveniently forgotten. The closing time for the Wisconsin Avenue Starbucks is on a temporary marquee-like board and it now reads 6:30 p.m. for Sunday night and 7:30 p.m. for all other nights, so that is no help in telling us what the closing time was on Sunday, July 6, 1997. It should not be too hard to establish what time it was, though, and if it was 8:00 p.m. this story won't fly.
But should the entry story fly anyway? There's still the oft-repeated account of the 9:15 witness who encountered a locked store with the workers routinely cleaning up inside. That is wholly inconsistent with the D.C. police (or is it really the FBI) affidavit, and everyone in the press pretends not to have noticed. If the gunman refused to leave the store at quitting time but pulled his weapon or weapons instead and embarked upon his robbery, the witness's story can't be believed, but why would the witness lie? And whose story sounds more plausible?
Then there is the improbable story of the struggle for the keys to the safe. Didn't they tell us from day one that Mahoney would have been the one to open the safe because she was the only one who knew the combination? Now we are to believe that the safe is opened with Mahoney's keys.
Finally, there is the matter of the murder weapons. There are lots of bullets for a thorough ballistics test, but, unfortunately, no guns. Not only does the putative Cooper confession tell a highly implausible tale of mayhem in Starbucks, but no one seems to know what happened to the guns.
On April 27, 1999, The Washington Times reported that Cooper told police that he had promptly buried the guns on the grounds of a Catholic home for abused and abandoned children and pregnant teenagers in Hyattsville, Maryland, about two blocks from his Gallatin St. NE home in Washington, DC. In February of 1998, after losing a job, he went back to dig them up to use for more robberies, he said, but he could not find them. Prince George's and D.C. police said they searched several places on the property after Cooper's "confession" and were unable to find them, either.
The very next day, however, we have this headline on a story by Jim Keary in the Metro section of The Washington Times: "Nun surprised by gun news."
Roman Catholic Sister Josephine Murphy was surprised to read in the newpapers yesterday that the man charged in the triple killing at the Starbucks coffee shop hid the guns he used on the property of her Hyattsville facility.
I never knew the police were looking for anything. I was just so surprised, said Sister Josephine, chief executive officer of St. Anns Infant and Maternity Home, which is part of the Archdiocese of Washington.
Sgt. Gary Cunningham, a Prince George's County police spokesman, said detectives searched the mostly wooded area around St. Ann's immediately after Mr. Cooper told police he had buried the guns on the site.
There were several places [Mr. Cooper] said [the guns] were, but they never found them, Sgt. Cunningham said.
Sgt. Cunningham said police did not notify St. Ann's administrators because nothing was found on the property.
A D.C. police source familiar with the case said that police searched several places for the guns, and that investigators are not sure whether Mr. Cooper was telling them the truth about the guns he said he buried.
Mr. Cooper has told several tales including implicating Emory Allen Evans, 25, one of the slain Starbucks workers, as an inside man in the crime."
Now that's one we hadn't heard before, but it should be noted that the police are more than willing to believe everything that Cooper tells them when it suits them.
But speaking of tales, does it not sound as though the police themselves might need a trip to the confessional concerning their search of Sister Josephine's property. Do they really expect us to believe that they sent a metal search and dig team over there and they examined several places and never cleared it with the people who run the property? If they searched for metal they would have to have dug up lots of things. Do you think they could tell us what those things were? Isn't it much more plausible that they didn't clear the search with Sister Josephine because they conducted no search? They conducted no search because they knew it would be fruitless. Cooper isn't very likely to have buried the guns that someone else used for the Starbucks murders after all, is he?
On August 5 the national wire services and the two Washington, D.C. papers announced that the ante had been raised for Cooper. He has been hit with those federal charges that The Times speaks of in its editorial.. The key quotes in the two local D.C. newspapers are the following:
His suspected accomplice, who was not named in any indictments, is now a prosecution witness, a law enforcement source said." (ed: That's Jim Keary again, talking about the Starbucks case in The Times.)
[U.S. Attorney Wilma A.] Lewis would not talk about other suspects, saying those matters were pending. Sources familiar with the investigation said some of Cooper's alleged former partners have been cooperating with authorities. The indictment cryptically said Cooper worked with "others known and unknown" to the grand jury." (ed: Bill Miller in The Post)
It's the "snitch" system gone haywire. One must wonder how many felons must go free for how many crimes so that the Starbucks murders can be pinned on Carl Derek Cooper.
Now, one last time, let us return to the bloodthirsty August 15 editorial by The Washington Times:
|What must be given great weight, though, are Mr. Cooper s OWN comments about the killings. In a 54-hour-long interrogation, police say, he explained why he targeted Starbucks, how he had not intended to act alone, what happened once inside the coffee shop, and what he did in the hours immediately following the failed robbery. (He even told police he decided not to take the money because it wasn't worth it. The killings were; the money was not.) Police even believe that he, more often than not, had sidekicks, but was forced to handle the Starbucks job alone because he failed to reach his accomplice at the designated time. (ed: emphasis and parenthetical comment in the original)|
The Times is very selective about Cooper's OWN comments. They would rather believe the implausible things he ostensibly had to say to police and FBI after more than 54 hours of grilling than the simple four words he must have told his lawyer before he entered his not guilty plea, "I didn't do it." I don t think they would put much stock at this point in his own comments about Keith Covington or the buried guns, either.
|Moreover, since the night of the gruesome Starbucks murders, Mr. Cooper has threatened to kill again. In a wiretapped conversation, law-enforcement authorities say Mr. Cooper threatened to kill Detective Jim Trainum and his family.|
Notice that by their talk of his killing again they presume his guilt for the murder charges against him. As for Cooper s wiretapped threats toward the detective, in consideration of the sort of psychological ordeal, the threats, the promises, and who knows what else they have done with him so they can finally put him on trial for his life for a crime that it looks like he did not do, is it any wonder that he should tell someone what he would like to do to some of his tormentors? Think of how Keith Covington felt during the relatively brief time of his ordeal and multiply it many times: "I thought it was one of those times in my life that I was being framed. I thought Satan was trying to step on me just as I was trying to get my life together." (Washington Post, March 6, 1999) Furthermore, his father might have been a church deacon, but no one ever said that Carl Derek Cooper was a choir boy.
The editorial concludes:
|Police have established three critical pieces of evidence for a successful prosecution of Mr. Cooper on murder, racketeering and robbery charges: motive, accomplice and confession. While official word on whether to pursue the death penalty in the Cooper case is months away, it's a subject that Janet Reno's Justice Department must consider. How much more violence will prosecutors tolerate before a killer--convicted by a jury of his peers--faces the ultimate sanction? Murderers have already answered the question. Time and again they have shown no qualms about being the arbitrary judges of who shall live and who shall die.|
There you have it, a perfect summary of the position of The Washington Times. It is not truth or justice they are after but whatever it takes to fool a jury, fool them like The Times and The Post fool their readers on a daily basis. Once again, one can't help being reminded that, but for that unanticipated and unlikely goldplated alibi, these out-for-blood words would almost certainly have been directed at the innocent Keith "Boo" Covington.
August 31, 1999
See also "Starbucks
Suspect Recanted before Confession Announced," "Starbucks
Railroad Job on Track," "Starbucks
Surveillance," and "Carl
Limbacher in Newsmax."
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