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Convict Who Shot And Killed Girl On Prom Night In 1991 Denied Parole

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

SANTA ANA (CBS)  — A convict who fatally shot a 17-year-old girl on prom night in 1991 was denied parole Wednesday.

A parole board conducted a daylong hearing at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, denying Paul Crowder release, Deputy District Attorney Paul Chrisopoulos said.

Crowder will not have another parole hearing for five years.

For the first time, the victim’s sister and mother flew to one of Crowder’s hearings to oppose his getting out of prison. Crowder received a boost last year from the father of his victim, Berlyn Cosman, who wrote a letter supporting his release.

“The (parole) board specifically mentioned the lack of credibility of the inmate during the hearing today,” Chrisopoulos said.

Crowder has a “thin” record of participating in self-help programs while incarcerated, Chrisopoulos said.

“They said he could have done a lot more in terms of self-help programming, in terms of anger management and alcohol abuse,” Chrisopoulos said.

In the past, Crowder has said he tripped and the gun accidentally went off.

“Today, for the first time, he didn’t say it was accidental,” Chrisopoulos said. “He said it was an unintentional killing, so he’s switching up the words.”

Crowder was found suitable for parole by a parole board in October. Gov. Jerry Brown reversed its decision in November.

Cosman’s sister, Morgan Cosman Kelly, and her mother, Susan Cosman, flew to California to attend the hearing.

Despite the difference of opinion with the victim’s father, Mark Cosman, the family doesn’t let it affect their relationships with each other.

“There’s 100 percent respect both on my mom and my side for my father’s spiritual journey. I respect his decisions,” Morgan Cosman Kelly said. “But my father doesn’t speak for the entire family. That was his choice, his decision.”

Morgan Cosman Kelly said Crowder doesn’t deserve to be released because she said he won’t take responsibility for his crime.

“His family will get to embrace him” if he is released, Morgan Cosman Kelly said. “My sister’s already gotten a life sentence. We don’t have the privilege of her coming home — ever.”

The victim’s sister said she met Crowder just once when her sibling picked her up after school in 1991.

Attorney Todd Spitzer, who represented Kelly and Susan Cosman at the parole hearing, said the two would not have been able to afford a trip to Tracy for the hearing if not for a donation from the Crime Survivors organization.

Crowder was sentenced in 1991 to 15 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder of Berlyn Cosman on June 1, 1991.

Crowder was not in high school at the time of the shooting, but was invited to the prom party by a friend, who was dating Cosman. During the party at an Anaheim hotel Crowder waved a gun around.

At some point, Crowder was told he could not sleep in Cosman’s room, leading to an argument. Crowder threatened the victim and her friends.

Just before dawn, Crowder returned to Cosman’s room and fired a shot.

The bullet hit Cosman in the head, killing her.

 (©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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