Kevin Cooper case: California Gov. Gavin Newsom orders more DNA testing

/ CBS/AP

Sacramento, Calif. — California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered additional DNA testing Friday on evidence that a death-row inmate says will prove his innocence in a 35-year-old murder case that has drawn national attention. Former Gov. Jerry Brown previously ordered testing of four pieces of evidence that condemned inmate Kevin Cooper says will show he was framed for the 1983 hatchet and knife killings of four people, including two children, in Chino Hills.

Newsom expanded the testing to include a green button and hair, blood and fingernail scrapings from the victims.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said he, surviving son Joshua Ryen, and other family members are disappointed by Newsom's order, though the Democratic governor emphasized that he is taking no position on Cooper's guilt or innocence at this time.

"Especially in cases where the government seeks to impose the ultimate punishment of death, I need to be satisfied that all relevant evidence is carefully and fairly examined," Newsom said in ordering the testing.

In 2000, 17 years after the murders, "48 Hours'" Erin Moriarty first heard from Cooper, who told her he had been framed. She has been reporting the story ever since. Nearly 35 years later, Cooper maintains his innocence.

"I cannot take responsibility for murders I did not commit," Cooper told Moriarty.

Moriarty found in her reporting there was evidence pointing to another suspect and in testimony at trial it was learned that a sheriff's deputy destroyed it.

When Diana Roper, now deceased, found bloody overalls belonging to her boyfriend, a man with a violent criminal history, she turned them in.

Sole survivor of Chino Hills massacre describes what happened

"Wouldn't you say that taking in coveralls that appear to be covered in blood, not sending them to a lab and throwing them away before trial would be highly unusual?" Moriarty asked Floyd Tidwell, who was the sheriff at the time.

"I don't know that that happened," Tidwell said. "I'm very vague on that."

Other evidence points to the killers being white or Hispanic, Cooper's supporters say. A San Diego judge in 2011 blocked Cooper's request for a third round of DNA testing.

The case also attracted national interest after New York Times' columnist Nicholas Kristof, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California and reality television star Kim Kardashian urged officials to allow re-testing.

Prosecutors say previous tests show Cooper, now 61, killed Doug and Peggy Ryen, their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and 11-year-old neighbor Christopher Hughes.

They say the tests proved Cooper was in the Ryen's home and smoked cigarettes in the Ryen's stolen station wagon, and that Cooper's blood and the blood of at least one victim was on a T-shirt found by the side of a road leading away from the scene of the murders.

Chino Hills massacre: Evidence photos in the Kevin Cooper case 28 photos

"Unfortunately, over time it seems the victims' desire for justice in this case matters less and less," District Attorney Jason Anderson said in a statement. "Prior DNA testing that Mr. Cooper sought, agreed to and claimed would exonerate him have all confirmed Mr. Cooper's guilt and that Mr. Cooper's allegations of evidence tampering were unfounded."

Cooper's attorney, Norman Hile, said the testing will likely take months, though the timing will be set by agreement between himself, prosecutors and the former judge Brown named to oversee the retesting.

"We hope that this additional testing will lead to the exoneration of Kevin Cooper and revealing who killed the Ryens and Christopher Hughes," Hile said.

Brown in December ordered the retesting of DNA on a tan T-shirt, orange towel, and a hatchet handle and sheath.

Hile has said investigators planted his client's blood on the T-shirt. He says more sensitive DNA tests are now available that may show who wore the shirt. He contends that investigators also planted other evidence to frame his client, then a young black man who escaped from a prison east of Los Angeles two days before the slayings.

Supporters of Cooper say other evidence, including untested hair samples, indicates there were multiple killers who are white or Hispanic.

Newsom ordered the testing of hair samples collected from the victims' hands and the crime scene, as well as two blood samples and a green button that investigators say links Cooper to the crime and Hile says was planted.

The goal is to see whose DNA is on the items, Newsom said. He noted, however, that multiple DNA from unknown contributors may have contaminated the evidence, given the age of the case and that items have been routinely handled by investigators and others.

California hasn't executed anyone since 2006. A federal appellate court in San Francisco stayed Cooper's scheduled execution in 2004 and called for further review of the evidence, but his appeals have been rejected by the California and U.S. supreme courts.

First published on February 22, 2019 / 8:50 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Chino Hills massacre: Evidence photos in the Kevin Cooper case

Calif. governor orders more DNA testing in 1983 murders

Kevin Cooper, who has been on Death Row, has said he was framed for the hatchet and knife killings of four people, including two children, in Chino Hills

11M ago

50 mph winds, possible "bomb cyclone" to hit Michigan

The severe weather increases the potential for widespread and lengthy power outages

1H ago

Life-saving service dog inspires a veteran to give back

"The way she would just look at you. Her eyes would go right through to your soul"

2H ago

Airmen killed during WWII crash honored with flyover

Tony Foulds witnessed a crash that killed 10 U.S. airmen

2H ago

Police describe deplorable conditions at spa in Robert Kraft sex sting

Kraft was among 25 people charged as part of a widespread crackdown on sex trafficking

2H ago

Trump to name Kelly Knight Craft U.N. ambassador

Craft is currently the U.S. ambassador to Canada

2H ago

Trump admin proposes cutting millions from Planned Parenthood

It’s the most concrete step that the administration has taken to limit abortion access since President Trump’s inauguration

3H ago

Trump praises labor secretary accused of concealing sex offender's plea

President Trump said he didn't know much about the case, but praised Labor Secretary Alex Acosta's work

3H ago

Manafort sentencing memo is expected Friday

A judge found earlier this month that Manafort lied to investigators after he had agreed to cooperate

3H ago

Several hundred troops to remain in Syria

The Trump administration is not yet announcing the defeat of the caliphate, and there is no timeline for withdrawing troops

3H ago

Airmen killed during WWII crash honored with flyover

Tony Foulds witnessed a crash that killed 10 U.S. airmen

2H ago

Nuns come forward with abuse allegations against Catholic priests

A group of nuns in India have rallied in support of a nun who said she was raped by her bishop

2H ago

Several hundred troops to remain in Syria

The Trump administration is not yet announcing the defeat of the caliphate, and there is no timeline for withdrawing troops

3H ago

Organizers want breakdancing at the 2024 Paris Olympics

Will boomboxes be considered sports equipment at the Summer Games?

3H ago

Here's who has been charged in Robert Mueller's probe

Mueller's report to Attorney General William Barr is expected sometime after next week

6H ago

Oscar win for Roma not a happy ending for cinemas

Theaters are struggling as streamers claim audiences and traditional Hollywood studios play catch up

2H ago

Here's how to watch the 91st Academy Awards

All of Hollywood's elite will descend on LA's Dolby Theatre Sunday night for the biggest cinema awards event of the year

5H ago

R. Kelly charged with criminal sexual abuse in Illinois

The singer has faced allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls for decades and has denied them

6H ago

"Space Jam 2" release date revealed

The premiere date may have been chosen to pay homage to both the original "Space Jam" star – and the new one

9H ago

Afrofuturism gains momentum as artists reclaim black history

Social, cultural and political philosophy dating back to the 1950s is resurging with popularity of films like "Black Panther" and works of author Tomi Adeyemi and artist Janelle Monáe

9H ago

American, Singapore Airlines have cameras in seat backs

Newer entertainment systems on some American Airlines and Singapore Airlines planes can monitor passengers

3H ago

Facebook reportedly received users' sensitive health data from apps: "It’s incredibly dishonest"

Health information such as heart rates and pregnancy status was sent from apps without consumer consent

3H ago

Virgin Galactic reaches edge of space again in push to launch paying passengers

The SpaceShipTwo rocketplane was carried aloft from the Mojave Air & Space Port north of Los Angeles

4H ago

Japanese space probe lands on far-off asteroid to get samples

Scientists say the samples could provide clues about the origin of the solar system and of life on Earth

16H ago

SpaceX launches rocket carrying privately funded Israeli moon lander

If successful, the $100M mission will put Israel in an exclusive club, joining the U.S., Soviet Union/Russia and China as only the fourth nation in space history to pull off a powered landing on the moon

23H ago

Company may have leaked carcinogen into air for years

Breathing in high concentrations of the chemical TCE has been linked to kidney cancer, liver cancer and lymphoma

3H ago

Child dies a day after flu diagnosis

41 children have died from flu-related causes this flu season, including a fourth-grader who died just one day after being diagnosed

6H ago

Woman dies after eating at Michelin-starred restaurant

One woman died and 28 other diners have fallen ill after eating at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Valencia, Spain

7H ago

FDA warns about potentially harmful dietary supplements

Americans spent more than $40 billion on supplements last year, with 3 out of 4 people regularly taking them

7H ago

"Heartless": Hospital and doctor accused of giving lethal doses of fentanyl

CBS News spoke with five people who said their family members died while under Dr. William Husel's care at Mount Carmel Hospital

13H ago

Oscar win for Roma not a happy ending for cinemas

Theaters are struggling as streamers claim audiences and traditional Hollywood studios play catch up

2H ago

Chevy Volt discontinued: Chevrolet's last Volt rolls off the assembly line

The last Chevrolet Volt was built on Tuesday, ending a decade-long quest to make a breakthrough battery-powered car

2H ago

American, Singapore Airlines have cameras in seat backs

Newer entertainment systems on some American Airlines and Singapore Airlines planes can monitor passengers

3H ago

Facebook reportedly received users' sensitive health data from apps: "It’s incredibly dishonest"

Health information such as heart rates and pregnancy status was sent from apps without consumer consent

3H ago

Kraft Heinz sees $16 billion in market value vanish

Wall Street analysts now question wisdom of 2015 Warren Buffett-steered merger that created packaged-food conglomerate

3H ago

Calif. governor orders more DNA testing in 1983 murders

Kevin Cooper, who has been on Death Row, has said he was framed for the hatchet and knife killings of four people, including two children, in Chino Hills

11M ago

Police describe deplorable conditions at spa in Robert Kraft sex sting

Kraft was among 25 people charged as part of a widespread crackdown on sex trafficking

2H ago

Indiana man charged in Muslim man's road rage shooting death

Dustin Passarelli, 33, has been charged in the road rage shooting death of Zahra Ayoubi

3H ago

R. Kelly charged with criminal sexual abuse in Illinois

The singer has faced allegations of sexual misconduct with underage girls for decades and has denied them

6H ago

Parents of 13 kids plead guilty in "house of horrors" case

David and Louise Turpin shackled some of their 13 children to beds​ and starved them in horrific captivity case

7H ago  Original Article