What Has Brown Done for Paul Crowder Lately? Gov. Again Denies Parole for Murderer of High School Basketball Star on Her Prom Night

Categories: Crime-iny
For the second time in four months, Governor Jerry Brown has determined that Paul Crowder should not be set free from the California prison holding the convicted killer of Berlyn Cosman, a Crescenta Valley High School basketball star who was shot to death in an Anaheim hotel room on her prom night in 1991.

In a four-page letter that once again reverses the state parole board, Brown wrote that Crowder remains a danger to the community because he has not accepted responsibility for the slaying.

Thumbnail image for berlyn-cosman.jpg
Berlyn Cosman
On June 1, 1991, 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 her 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 that Crowder should be paroled, but then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger invoked his authority to reverse that 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. Over the objections of Cosman's sister, the Anaheim Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney's office, the parole board voted for Crowder's parole last October. Prosecutors vowed to take their fight to new Governor Brown.
A month later, Brown reversed the parole board's initial 2010 parole in a separate four-page
letter that found Crowder "does not genuinely understand or accept responsibility for his actions . . . (and) currently poses a danger to society if released."

Brown's second letter reverses the November 2011 parole board action.

Previous coverage:

Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

I knew Paul as to say I was classmates with his brother. We all ended up at the same parties time to time but never spoke. My memory and only interaction with him was at a party one night. I was coming out of the bathroom (intoxicated) and 2 boys tried to push me back in. then there was Paul pulling them out of the bathroom and said they better leave me alone. He asked if I was ok and told me not to go to the bathroom without a friend. He also cut me off from drinking after that. Just from that brief moment I know Paul didn't mean to shoot her. They were friends. This story really is twisting things around. He made a bad choice carrying a gun. But he was young and we were all dumb back then. It breaks my heart to find out all these years later he's still paying for that MISTAKE. I will always remember Paul as being my knight I. Shining armor that night 20+ years ago. I'll say a prayer for him tonight.


Statistically (and these statistics come from both CDCR and the State Government Audit Board) Crowder poses NO risk to society.  Those found suitable for parole after serving this long a sentence have a recidivism rate of 0% for any crime, let alone a violent crime.

This was a heinous crime, but locking up a 19 year old long past a parole board's decision is just not good penology, and is a true waste of taxpayer money.  While it is hard for society to imagine releasing this young woman's killer when she will never be released back to life, revenge is not what our penal system is all about.  He has served the time he was sentenced to and for some reason (and this happens rarely) the parole board deemed him fit to return to society.  It takes a very strong person to go through what Crowder must have gone through to convince the board.  They aren't stupid and are not cowed.


@malibu1369. When a convict refuses to acknowledge guilt and the true circumstances of his crime, that is denial and it shows something necessary to obtain parole lacking. Justice traditionally has a retributive function in society. That is the original principle in the law. The tailonic principle and it is no less important than the 20th century principle of rehabilitation. Crowders refusal to accept culpability for the crime shows that he is not rehabilitated. Perhaps when he finally admits to the true circumstances and his actions, he will be, but until then, no, he will not. Further, expense of imprisonment is not a valid reason for release. It's a red herring. The only reason why the parole board decided to initially grant parole is that Berlyn's father supported it out of a desire to heal himself, not because he believed Crowder had been fully rehabilitated, because in many years of correspondence, Crowder never once admitted to committing murder. He still maintains--despite all the evidence and the jury's decision that it was an accident--and a factually impossible one at that.

Now Trending

Anaheim Concert Tickets

From the Vault