Wednesday 26 January 2011

Judge rejects Kevin Cooper's request for further DNA testing

SAN DIEGO - A judge has turned down a request by death row inmate Kevin Cooper to allow further DNA testing of blood samples that Cooper believes may prove he's innocent of killing four people in Chino Hills.
Cooper was convicted and sentenced to death 25 years ago for the notorious hatchet slayings on June 4, 1983 of a married couple, their daughter and a houseguest.
Cooper has long maintained his innocence, and he pushed for DNA testing that the state's appellate lawyers agreed in 2001 to allow.
Cooper hoped the testing would show that some of the blood found at the crime scene came from people other than Cooper and those killed.

Instead, Cooper's DNA was found in the blood samples recovered from the crime scene, leading to accusations from Cooper and his attorneys that the evidence was planted.

In an order issued Friday, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Kenneth K. So rejected a request from Cooper's attorneys to conduct further DNA testing.

In his 29-page order, So repeated the evidence of Cooper's guilt - evidence that So said was bolstered by previous DNA testing.
"After the advent of DNA testing and after the post-conviction testing that was conducted, it was established that (Cooper's) DNA and the victims' DNA were on the same article of clothing," So wrote.
"This very powerful incriminating evidence is consistent with the other overwhelming evidence of (Cooper's) guilt introduced at his trial."

In an interview Wednesday, Cooper's attorney, Norman Hile, said, "We're very disappointed."
"Since we were willing to pay for the testing, and given the state's fiscal problems, it seems ridiculous that we can't just do the testing and find out what the results are.
"But rather, the state has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to block us from being able to test it. We simply wanted to get to the truth."
Hile said that Cooper has the right to appeal So's decision to the California Supreme Court. Hile said he hasn't decided whether he will file an appeal.
An execution date has not been set for Cooper or any other California death row inmates because of concerns that the state's lethal injection method is inhumane.

Two days before the slayings in Chino Hills, Kevin Cooper escaped from the California Institution for Men in Chino, where he was imprisoned for committing two residential burglaries in Los Angeles County.
It was the twelfth time Cooper had escaped from a jail or prison, So wrote in his order.

Cooper acknowledges that after his escape, he took refuge in a vacant home on a property adjacent to the lot where there killings took place. But he denies responsibility for the killings.
The night of June 4, 1983, Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica Ryen, and 11-year-old houseguest Christopher Hughes, died after being attacked with a hatchet, ice pick and knife.
The Reyns' 8-year-old son, Joshua Ryen, survived despite being badly injured in the attack.

Hile said he wanted to have further DNA testing conducted on a vial of Cooper's blood drawn after his arrest in Santa Barbara on July 31, 1983. The vile, Hile said, may contain blood belonging to someone other than Cooper.
A T-shirt found by authorities near the Ryens' home contained Cooper's DNA, but also had another contributor of DNA that prior testing failed to identify, Hile said.

"There's more sensitive tests now, and we just wanted to test that to see who else's DNA was on that T-shirt," Hile said.
Further testing could determine the shirt's "habitual user," as well as possibly identify an unidentified DNA contributor on a spot of blood found by authorities in the Ryens' home, Hile said.
"All of these things we would pay for to find out the truth," Hile said.
In his order, So challenged claims made by Cooper and his attorneys that there is DNA on the evidence from people other than Cooper and the murder victims.

He said that the unidentified DNA is consistent with that of Cooper and the victims, and could be a combination of DNA from Cooper and the victims.

No comments:

Post a Comment