Born in Los Angeles but raised mostly in Washington, D.C., Lily Mae Lazarus is back for her second internship at the Independent this summer. On page 19 of this week’s issue, she delivers us her biggest story yet, a cover feature on Tom Parker’s plight to get Kevin Cooper off of death row.
This is your second internship with the paper. What made you come back? I am the managing editor of Tulane’s paper, the Tulane Hullabaloo, and my time with the Independent last year taught me many valuable skills that I find myself applying in college. I came to Santa Barbara last summer knowing no one. Having the chance to work with a close-knit team like that of the Independent provided me with a much-needed community locally and allowed me to learn about the city by connecting with it during a time of mass isolation.
How did you stumble upon this week’s story? The general topic of the story, Kevin Cooper, is fairly notorious among the legal community and criminal justice reformers. At first, the story was somewhat of a fishing expedition into the involvement of S.B. resident Tom Parker. After speaking at lengths with him, it soon became clear that Tom’s work on Cooper’s case was far more scandalous and interesting than it first appeared.
What is most interesting/surprising about the article? The lengths to which it appears law enforcement went to frame a man, and the cycle of negligence in the justice system which has kept him in jail for over three decades. Second to that, I loved hearing about Parker’s sleuthing efforts.