Paul Crowder, Murderer of Anaheim Basketball Star on Her Prom Night, Wins Parole Bid (Again)

Categories: Crime-iny
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After murderer Paul Crowder was granted parole last year, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reversed it.

Today, the Board of Parole Hearings, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation once again determined the killer of a 17-year-old Anaheim basketball star on her prom night should be set free.

The ball is now in Gov. Jerry Brown's court.

On June 1, 1991, Berlyn Cosman was sleeping in her room at the Sterling Crown Suites Hotel in Anaheim after her prom when drunk, laughing and then-19-year-old Crowder walked in, waved a gun around, shot the Crescenta Valley High School basketball star and fled. He was sentenced in November 1991 to 15 years to life in state prison for the second-degree murder of Cosman and four additional years for personal use of a firearm.

The state parole board voted in 2010 to let Crowder loose, but Schwarzenegger invoked his authority to reverse the board's decision, citing Crowder's lack of insight into and responsibility for the murder. That set up another parole hearing at Deuel Vocational Institution, the Tracy prison holding Crowder. But the hearing was continued in May after Crowder's attorney objected to a psychological report on his client.

As they have all along, the Anaheim Police Department and Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) have objected to now 39-year-old Crowder's parole, arguing that he still fails to take responsibility for the crime by claiming the gun was accidentally discharged, and has made no rehabilitation effort by only taking one anger management course in 20 years of imprisonment.

But the parole board did not see things that way meeting in Tracy today, so the OCDA is forced to take its objections to Gov. Brown.

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John C. Baker
John C. Baker

I was at that Crescenta Valley High Prom as a recent grad on a date with a then-current student (though not at the party). I had followed Berlyn's basketball career. I was coincidentally walking by Crowder's house on Honolulu Avenue the day after the shooting, at the exact same time he was arrested after fleeing to his home. I went to Berlyn's funeral later that week in Montrose. I later became friends with others who were at the party. Paul Crowder's brother Mike played basketball at CV the next couple years and had to live with what his brother did. I later followed newspaper accounts of the trial and bought Mark Cosman's book. Obviously, then, I was strongly affected by what happened that night.

What occured in that Orange County hotel room was my first real exposure to the fact that life was fleeting, that horrible things can happen to people you know. I've seen a lot of terrible things in the 20 years since, but Berlyn's death still affects me to this day. But I also have to say that Mark Crowder's apparent forgiveness of Crowder (seen in other media accounts, but not this one) is one of the most gracious things I have ever seen. My wife and I recently welcomed our first daughter, and I don't know if I could be so forgiving after such a horrible loss. He's a better man than I am.

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