By Mary O’KEEFE
On Oct. 19, an Orange County Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation hearing found that Paul Crowder is suitable for parole.
Crowder was sentenced in November 1991 to 15 years to life in state prison for second-degree murder of Crescenta Valley High School senior Berlyn Cosman. OC Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos argued against the parole of Crowder.
“He was granted parole a year ago,” Chrisopoulos said.
Crowder had been found suitable for parole in 2010, however then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed that judgment.
On June 1, 1991 some Crescenta Valley High School students rented a hotel room at the Crown-Sterling Suites Hotel in Anaheim for an after prom party. Crowder, 19 years old at the time, was not a student at CVHS but was a friend of Berlyn’s boyfriend, according to reports at the time of Crowder’s trial. Crowder had brought beer and a firearm to the party.
According to the prosecution, Crowder had waved the gun around the hotel and was angry with Cosman when she asked him to leave the room so she could sleep. The defense argued that the tragedy was an accident, that Crowder had stumbled and the gun went off, striking and killing Cosman.
“He still stands by his version that he tripped and fell and [the gun went off],” Chrisopoulos said.
He added that Crowder has not shown that he has taken any responsibility for the murder of Cosman.
“How can you have true rehabilitation if you can’t acknowledge [what happened]?” he asked.
In his bid for parole, Crowder had several letters of support from family, friends and correctional staff.
“And from the victim’s own father,” Chrisopoulos said. “That is the biggest thing we have to overcome.”
Mark Cosman, according to Chrisopoulos, has been in correspondence with Crowder. But despite the supportive letters, Chrisopoulos continues to doubt Crowder’s version of the evening’s tragedy.
“He [told] the [parole] board at the time of the [shooting] he had started abusing alcohol,” he said.
The death of Cosman inspired the Crescenta Valley community to start Prom Plus, a supervised after prom party for CVHS seniors and their guests. The organization, approaching its 20th year, has partnered with the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA to offer students a safe, fun alternative to the type of hotel party that had been traditional in the past. From midnight to 5 a.m., students climb rock walls, ride a mechanical bull and try their luck at a full casino.
“I am very proud that the community was able to come together after this tragedy to create a safe and fun event for our kids after prom,” said Robin Goldsworthy, president of Prom Plus. “The tragedy touched not only these families but the entire Crescenta Valley community.”
Cosman was a well-liked star basketball player who had her entire life before her. She had received a four-year athletic scholarship to a college in Missouri.
At present, Crowder’s parole future is in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor has a maximum of 150 days from the date of the hearing to respond to the parole recommendation.