Clemency probe fails to exonerate Kevin Cooper in quadruple Chino Hills murders – Orange County Register

According to a report released Friday, an analysis of DNA evidence conducted in connection with a mercy probe found Kevin Cooper, a death row inmate convicted of the 1983 killings of three members of a Chino Hills family and a neighbor’s boy made national headlines, not exonerating , January 13.

In fact, test results and other evidence gathered during the investigation showed that Cooper’s guilt is “broad and conclusive,” belying his contention in court in 1985 that police placed DNA evidence at the crime scene to frame him for the gruesome To frame the murders of Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and 11-year-old neighbor Christopher Hughes.

“The DNA evidence corroborates the witness statements, physical, forensic and circumstantial evidence presented at trial, which was sufficient to convince the jury of Cooper’s guilt even without the DNA evidence later available,” the report said. “Cooper has not established that the evidence of his guilt was fabricated or planted. The evidence, including the DNA evidence itself, refutes the claim that the evidence was fabricated or planted.”

Cooper, who has maintained his innocence, requested clemency, and Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the Special Counsel of the California Board of Parole Hearings to investigate in 2021 to help with his decision.

In 2019, Newsom ordered DNA testing of hair collected at the scene from one of the victim’s hands, traces of blood, fingernail scratches from the victims, and a green button, against prosecutors’ opposition.

The year before, Newsom’s predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown, ordered an investigation into a tan T-shirt and orange towel found near the crime scene, along with a hatchet handle and scabbard.

Cooper’s attorney at the time said he believed tests would show Cooper was framed, and his case has become a celebrity, with backers including Kim Kardashian, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and others.

The special counsel said his hired experts also considered Cooper’s arguments that others were the “real” killers, but found no evidence to support that theory.

“Cooper has not determined that others committed the Ryen/Hughes crimes,” the report said. “The claim that someone else committed the crimes is belied by the overwhelming evidence of Cooper’s guilt and the absence of any DNA evidence or other compelling evidence pointing to another individual as the perpetrator.”

In April 1983, Cooper was convicted of burglary in Los Angeles County and sent to the California Institution for Men in Chino. Less than two months later, he escaped from prison and hid in a vacant tenement in Chino Hills, 150 meters from the Ryens’ home, according to prosecutors. He stayed in the house until the evening of June 4, 1983.

The Ryens, their daughter and the boy next door were killed on either June 4 or 5, prosecutors said. The Ryens’ 8-year-old son, Josh, had his throat cut in the attack but survived.

Josh Ryen told police and hospital staff within hours of the murders that the killers were “three white men,” but Cooper is black. Josh repeated this identification of the attackers in the days following the crimes, the clemency petition said. Upon seeing Cooper’s picture of the alleged attacker on TV, Joshua said, according to the clemency plea, “That’s not the man who did it.”

This is an evolving story. Check for updates again.

https://www.ocregister.com/2023/01/13/clemency-probe-fails-to-exonerate-kevin-cooper-in-quadruple-chino-hills-murders/ Clemency probe fails to exonerate Kevin Cooper in quadruple Chino Hills murders – Orange County Register

Dais Johnston

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