By Mary O’KEEFE
Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. has once again denied parole for Paul Crowder. The decision was released on Thursday.
Crowder was sentenced in November 1991 to 15 years to life in state prison for the second-degree murder of Crescenta Valley High School student Berlyn Cosman. Cosman and friends were at an unsupervised after prom party at a hotel in Anaheim.
On June 1, 1991 – prom night for Crescenta Valley High School – Crowder had been drinking and, according to trial transcripts, had argued with Berlyn earlier in the evening. At some point he returned to the room where she was sleeping and shot her.
He testified that he was drunk and tripped and the gun went off.
The Orange County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation found that Crowder was suitable for parole at a hearing on Oct. 19, 2011. Brown denied his parole stating that if released, Crowder posed a danger to society.
In his decision released on Thursday, Brown stated that he did not believe Crowder’s assertion that the shooting was accidental and that although Crowder had made attempts to improve himself throughout his incarceration “they are outweighed by negative factors that demonstrate he remains unsuitable for parole.”
During the hearing, several students that were present at the hotel at the time of Berlyn’s death testified that Crowder was angry and waving his gun around. Crowder denied this behavior at the time of the trial and continues to stand by his denial.
Brown stated, “Mr. Crowder’s dishonesty about the murder and his behavior leading up to it shows that he has thus far either been unwilling or unable to confront and deal with his true reasons for killing Ms. Cosman. 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.”
In addition, a confidential memorandum from 1998 through September 2011 was cited that indicated that Crowder was involved in transporting drugs and gang communications within prison.
Brown was also concerned that Crowder had not taken the proper steps to control his anger. He had not taken an anger management class since 2002.
This denial for probation follows another similar decision by Brown in November 2011. On June 2010, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations’ Board of Parole Hearings voted in favor of Crowder’s parole. The decision was reversed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Superior Court overturned that reversal and reinstated the June 2010 grant. Brown reviewed that proposal and issued a reversal on Nov. 4, 2011. The Crescenta Valley community responded to Berlyn’s murder in 1991 by creating Prom Plus, a post prom event for CVHS seniors and their guests, as an effort to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.
Since 1993, Prom Plus has hosted an after-prom party from midnight to 5 a.m. at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA. For prom ticket holders, there is no additional cost to attend the $25,000 event; for seniors wanting to attend only Prom Plus, the cost is $20 at the door.