California Gov. Jerry Brown Orders New DNA Testing in 1983 Death Row Murder Case

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday ordered new DNA tests in a high-profile 1983 quadruple murder case. Kevin Cooper was convicted in 1985 of killing Doug and Peggy Ryen, along with their 10-year-old daughter Jessica and 11-year-old neighbor Christopher Hughes, in a wealthy suburb of Los Angeles. Two previous DNA tests tied him to the scene, but influential figures like U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), state Treasurer John Chiang, and even Kim Kardashian have called for new tests after Cooper claimed he was innocent. Brown on Monday ordered the retesting of a shirt and towel that were found near the murder scene, as well as a hatchet handle and hatchet sheath—all evidence that Cooper and his lawyers insist will prove he was framed. “I take no position as to Mr. Cooper’s guilt or innocence at this time, but colorable factual questions have been raised about whether advances in DNA technology warrant limited retesting of certain physical evidence in this case,” Brown wrote. The governor also granted 143 pardons and 131 commutations on Christmas Eve, with five Cambodian refugees and a Honduran immigrant likely spared from deportation thanks to their pardons.