Produced by Marcelena Spencer, Lisa Freed and Dena For two decades, "48 Hours" has investigated the case of Kevin Cooper, the California death row inmate who has always claimed innocence. Our investigation began with letters sent by Cooper from San Quentin State Prison outside San Francisco.\u00a0 Cooper claimed he\u0027d been framed for the murder of four people in a horrific home invasion in Chino Hills, California, in 1983.In May 2019, for the first time, Moriarty visited Cooper at San Quentin. His case has drawn international attention from the likes of Pope Francis and Kim Kardashian West.Cooper has maintained for more than three decades he did not kill Doug and Peggy Ryen; their daughter, Jessica, 10; and a family friend, Christopher Hughes, 11. "I die a little bit every day. The only thing that keeps me going is I know I\u0027m innocent," Cooper told Moriarty.Now, with new witnesses, lost evidence and a DNA test that doesn\u0027t link him to the crime, the question remains: will Cooper ever walk free again?MASSACRE IN CHINO HILLSIt was a massacre, brutal and bloody, and more than three decades ago, it shattered the upscale horse community known as Chino Hills in Southern California. Many wondered back then if the right man had been convicted for the crime, and even more wonder today if the real killers got away.On June 4, 1983, Peggy Ryen, her husband Doug, and their 10-year-old daughter Jessica were stabbed and slashed to death inside their home. An 11-year-old neighbor spending the night, Christopher Hughes, also lost his life. DEPUTY: There are 4 DOAs.911 OPERATOR: One subject is still alive.The only one who miraculously lived through that night was Josh Ryen, then 8-and- half years old.\u00a0 Erin Moriarty spoke to him in 2003.Erin Moriarty: What does something like this do to a person\u0027s lifeJosh Ryen: Changes your life. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 You lose somebody \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 and it hurts.There was strong evidence pointing to multiple assailants. A bloody hatchet was discovered near the Ryen\u0027s Arabian horse ranch. Investigators believed it was just one of three weapons used. And according to the coroner, the victims had some 140 wounds.NEWS REPORT: The Ryens\u0027 family car is missing and presumed taken by the murder suspects.SHERIFF FLOYD TIDWELL [to reporters]: It\u0027s a 1977 Buick. Four door, station wagon.\u00a0Neighbors reported they saw multiple people drive away in a car that looked like it. And Josh, still too wounded to speak, also indicated that there were three attackers when he was questioned by a deputy.Deputy Sheriff Sharp: When we got to the point of asking him how many people were there, I went "one, two, three," and he squeezed my hand. Erin Moriarty: Three people when things went crazy. Deputy Sheriff Sharp: Yeah, right.Josh thought the attackers were white or Mexican men, and yet, police soon zeroed in on one man, Kevin Cooper.NEWS REPORT: The prime suspect, escaped prisoner Kevin Cooper, is still at large.Cooper was a career burglar who\u0027d escaped from nearby prison and was on the run. He had been hiding out at a vacant house near the Ryen home before the murders.\u00a0A hatchet was reported missing and a hatchet sheath was later recovered there.\u00a0 NEWS REPORT: A huge manhunt was finally over, with Cooper being sly enough to evade them for months.By the time Cooper went on trial, the memory of the only eyewitness, Josh Ryen \u00e2\u0080\u0094 then 10 \u00e2\u0080\u0094 had changed. The district attorney at the time, Dennis Kottmeier, questioned Josh:D.A. DENNIS KOTTMEIER: What did you see? JOSH RYEN: I don\u0027t know, but like I saw almost like a shadow or something. He no longer remembered three attackers:D.A. DENNIS KOTTMEIER: How many shadows did you see?JOSH RYEN: Just one.D.A. DENNIS KOTTMEIER: Just the one? \u00a0COURT CLERK: We the jury of the above entitled cause, determine that the penalty shall be death. Kevin Cooper was convicted and condemned to die, although he told the jury then what he later told Moriarty: that he was innocent.Erin Moriarty: Why should someone believe you Kevin?Kevin Cooper: I\u0027m not asking anyone to believe me. I\u0027m asking people to look at the evidence.And the evidence does raise questions. Cooper\u0027s fingerprints weren\u0027t found anywhere at the crime scene. Neither were any of his hairs. But there were strands of light-colored hairs found clutched in Jessica Ryen\u0027s hand. Her grandmother Mary Howell.Mary Howell: When I saw \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 that little hand. \u0027Cause she musta fought terribly.And, there were those multiple weapons that authorities say were used in the attack. How could one man wield at least three weapons? Mary Howell: I still can\u0027t believe that one person \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 could do all that to my family. There\u0027s five of them, and I just know that they didn\u0027t stand in line saying, "I\u0027m next." The scene was incredibly bloody. There was spatter all over the walls. And yet, the state\u0027s expert said he found only one single drop of blood that matched Cooper\u0027s blood type. It is on the tiny paint chip seen in the evidence photo shown above. NEWS REPORT: A man walking his dog spotted the Ryen car in a church parking lot yesterday morning. And then there\u0027s the stolen family station wagon. Authorities believed Cooper killed the Ryen\u0027s to steal it.NEWS REPORT: Police eagerly searched the car for clues. \u00a0Blood was found in the car, but if Kevin Cooper used it to get away, why was the blood found on three seats \u00e2\u0080\u0094 not one?\u00a0 Mary Howell believed there had to be more than one killer.\u00a0Mary Howell: And if somebody\u0027s out there that thinks that maybe Josh could \u00e2\u0080\u00a6identify him, if they went after Josh they\u0027d go after me too. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I\u0027m concerned. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I\u0027m a protective grandmother.After "48 Hours"\u0027 first report on Cooper\u0027s case aired, the state agreed to conduct DNA tests. There wasn\u0027t enough DNA in the hairs, but cigarette butts found in the car, a tan T-shirt found near the scene, and that tiny blood-stained paint chip were all sent to the lab.\u00a0 In 2002, the results came in, and no one seemed more shocked than Cooper. The evidence tested positive for his DNA.Kevin Cooper [phone call with Erin Moriarty]: It was devastating. I mean, I \u0027m not going to lie to you. I thought I was going to walk out the door \u00e2\u0080\u00a6Cooper was convinced that somehow investigators had tampered with and planted the evidence, but who would believe him? \u00a0Not Josh Ryen.Josh Ryen: It\u0027s time to face it. And the DNA\u0027s pointing to Kevin Cooper.\u00a0 So, he was there. \u00a0He needs to pay for his crime, so we have closure.Christopher Hughes\u0027 mother agreed, but Josh\u0027s loving and protective grandmother, didn\u0027t see it that way.Mary Howell: I haven\u0027t changed \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 my opinions at all. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I still am looking for the truth. \u00a0\u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I feel \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 the killers are still out there somewhere.Kevin Cooper was scheduled to die by lethal injection on February 10, 2004.Erin Moriarty: Would you go watch him die?Josh Ryen: Yes.Erin Moriarty: You would need to do that?Josh Ryen: Yes \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 He was there \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 So, he needs to pay for that. Erin Moriarty: If Kevin Cooper is executed, you believe they\u0027ll be killing an innocent manMary Howell: Yes, I do.A SECOND CHANCEIn February 10, 2004, Kevin Cooper\u0027s date with death was set. \u00a0Then, with just hours to go \u00e2\u0080\u00a6NEWS REPORT: The execution that was supposed to happen a few hours ago is now on hold.NEWS REPORT: A surprise ruling late tonight that stayed his execution and stunned just about everybody.The 9th Circuit Federal Appellate Court stepped in and saved Cooper\u0027s life. He later described that moment to Moriarty.Erin Moriarty: How close did you come? Kevin Cooper: I came within three hours and 42 minutes of being strapped down to that gurney and physically tortured with lethal poison.After the court stayed his execution, attorney Norman Hile, working pro bono, joined Cooper\u0027s defense.Norman Hile: \u00a0I think Kevin is innocent. And I also think that he was the victim of a horribly racist prosecution. And I just don\u0027t give up. Hile fought to get Cooper a new trial. For years, he petitioned court after court, and the boxes of legal documents continued to pile up.\u00a0 Mary Howell still refused to say it was over.Mary Howell: Everybody knows that I wanna know the truth \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 why my family was killed. Who did it? Why? \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 and I don\u0027t want to die without knowing it.Sadly, the 93-year-old grandmother never got the answers she hoped for. In 2008, Mary Howell died. Kevin Cooper had been on death row for 23 years.One year later, Cooper finally got a break. His case was back in front of the 9th Circuit Court with 27 judges. While the majority refused to review his case, 11 of them disagreed. Norman Hile: There is not a single case in U.S. history where 11 appellate judges said that they felt that the person had not gotten a fair hearing. One judge, William Fletcher, wrote in a scathing 100-page dissent, "the state of California may be about to execute an innocent man" and "there is substantial evidence that three white men, rather than Cooper were the killers."\u00a0 In a lecture, he pointed to contradictions in the only survivor\u0027s account. Josh Ryen first indicated the assailants were three white or Mexican men. By trial, his story was different:JOSH RYEN: I only saw like a shadow or something.D.A. DENNIS KOTTMEIER: How many shadows did you see?JOSH RYEN: Just one.D.A. DENNIS KOTTMEIER: Just the one?Judge Fletcher believes Josh\u0027s memory was influenced by a deputy who had visited Josh "approximately 20 times" during the hospital stay. \u00a0JUDGE WILLIAM FLETCHER [NYU Lecture]: the deputy got Josh to change his story so that he no longer said three to four white men did it.The judge also noted Josh never identified Kevin Cooper.JUDGE WILLIAM FLETCHER [NYU Lecture]: During his stay in the hospital, Josh twice saw a picture of Cooper on television both times he said Cooper was not one of the killers.It\u0027s what Cooper\u0027s lawyers have been saying all along.Norman Hile: As soon as they identified Kevin Cooper, a black escaped prisoner, in the house down the hill from the Ryens, they stopped looking for those people, and focused entirely on \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 proving that Kevin Cooper had killed the Ryens.D.A DENNIS KOTTMEIER [in court]: Repeatedly attacked with hatchet blows to the head by Kevin Cooper.Judge Fletcher also questions the key piece of evidence in this case \u00e2\u0080\u0094 that tiny drop of blood. The state says proves Kevin Cooper was inside the Ryen home. \u00a0At first, the criminalist said it was one blood type and later he said it was another. Norman Hile: When he found out that he\u0027d put the wrong blood type down, and he had not matched it to Kevin, he changed his notes to say it was the same blood type as Kevin\u0027sThe judge says the criminalist "altered his lab notes and claimed that he had misinterpreted his results". And that\u0027s not all. Remember those cigarette butts found in the Ryen\u0027s station wagon?\u00a0 Defense attorney Norman Hile believes they came from the home where Cooper had been hiding out.Norman Hile: When they found the Ryen\u0027s station wagon they planted those two cigarette butts \u00e2\u0080\u00a6Those butts weren\u0027t found until sheriff\u0027s deputies did a second search of the car, and according to Hile, one of the butts inexplicably grew from one test to another.Norman Hile: The previous tested \u00e2\u0080\u0093 cigarette butt \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 was 4 millimeters long \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 and the one \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 in 2002 was 7 \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 millimeters long.Judge Fletcher says deputies "discounted, disregarded and discarded evidence pointing to other killers \u00e2\u0080\u00a6" like evidence provided by Diana Roper. Days after the murders, she called the sheriff\u0027s office after she found bloody coveralls left in her closet. Diana Roper: I tried to tell them that this has to do with the Chino murder.She said they belonged to her ex-boyfriend, a paroled killer by the name of Lee Furrow.\u00a0 Furrow had murdered 17-year-old Mary Sue Kitts. On the orders of a gang leader, he strangled her and threw her off a bridge into a river. Diana Roper:\u00a0 Just an evil, evil person.Roper said she told investigators that Furrow also owned a hatchet that looked like the weapon used on the Ryens and Christopher Hughes.Diana Roper: Well he kept all his tools on the back porch, hanging on nails \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 and as soon as they said, I walked back there, and his hatchet was the only thing missing.\u00a0And, she said, on the day of the murders, Furrow was wearing a T-shirt.Diana Roper: It was like a beige, light brown colored beige.A tan shirt was found down the road from the Ryen\u0027s home, not far from the Canyon Corral Bar.That is significant because on the night of the murders, three white men were seen in that bar \u00e2\u0080\u0093 one of them in a light-colored T-shirt and another in bloody coveralls.\u00a0Christine Slonaker and Mary Wolfe, who were in the bar, spoke to "48 Hours" in 2004.Christine Slonaker: I realized at that time that he was just covered in blood, spattered in blood.Mary Wolfe: It was spotted. He had a light-colored shirt on so it really, I mean it really showed, even though the bar was still dark you could still see it. Erin Moriarty: When you first heard that the Ryens had been murdered, what was your first thought?Christine Slonaker: The guys in the bar \u00e2\u0080\u00a6Diana Roper died three years after "48 Hours" interviewed her. The bloody coveralls she turned over to the authorities were never tested. Instead, a deputy threw them out before Cooper\u0027s trial. A "disposition report" shows the coveralls were "destroyed" and described as having "no value."Floyd Tidwell: I don\u0027t know that that happened.Erin Moriarty: That did happen.In 2000, when "48 Hours" spoke with Floyd Tidwell, who was the sheriff at the time of the murders, he didn\u0027t seem to know anything about it. Tidwell died in February 2020.Erin Moriarty: But doesn\u0027t that concern you that maybe not all the evidence was available at Cooper\u0027s trial?Floyd Tidwell: Not on \u00e2\u0080\u0094 I can\u0027t be concerned unless I know about it.Erin Moriarty: But it was something that happened when you were sheriff. It was your sheriff\u0027s department.Floyd Tidwell: Hey, let\u0027s bring this to a screaming halt right here, OK.Erin Moriarty: Oh.Floyd Tidwell: That\u0027s enough of that crap [walks off camera and rips off his microphone].Kevin Cooper believes the coveralls could have helped his case, and so does Judge Fletcher.JUDGE WILLIAM FLETCHER [NYU Lecture]: The bloody overalls were, to say the least, inconvenient, so the deputies threw them away \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 Kevin Cooper, the man now sitting on death row, may well be \u00e2\u0080\u0093 and in my view, probably is \u00e2\u0080\u0094 innocent.Erin Moriarty: Doesn\u0027t that give you pause? Doesn\u0027t that make you feel that you have to do whatever you can to make sure that the right person\u0027s being executed?Michael Ramos: The right person is being executed. Former District Attorney Michael Ramos inherited Cooper\u0027s case in 2003.Michael Ramos: It doesn\u0027t give me pause at all \u00e2\u0080\u0094Erin Moriarty:\u00a0 How do you dismiss \u00e2\u0080\u0094Michael Ramos: Because we\u0027re talking about a dissenting judge of the 9th Circuit, uh, Judge\u0027s Court of Appeals and which is, uh, federal, you know, with all due respect, a very liberal Circuit. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 the majority opinion was not only guilty \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 overwhelmingly guilty.WAS EVIDENCE PLANTED? By 2010, Kevin Cooper, 52, had been on death row nearly half his life.\u00a0 His appeals had run out. \u00a0Then, a newspaper columnist 3,000 miles away took notice.Nicholas Kristof writes op-ed columns for the New York Times.\u00a0 What caught his attention was Judge William Fletcher\u0027s dissent.Nicholas Kristof: I had never read an opinion like this with a respected circuit court judge arguing that somebody on death row had been framed\u00e2\u0080\u00a6Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer covering genocide and human rights issues and there was something about Kevin Cooper\u0027s case that struck a chord.Nicholas Kristof: Prosecutors kinda seized upon him as \u00e2\u0080\u0094 that, you know, he\u0027s sent by central casting. He looks the part that people had in their minds for a ruthless killer.Nicholas Kristof: And it is particularly \u00e2\u0080\u0094 problematic when a black person is charged with the killings of a white person. Or, in this case, white people \u00e2\u0080\u00a6and I think that made it a lot harder for Kevin Cooper to be tried fairly for this crime.Kristof and a team from the Times closely examined the evidence the state said tested positive for Cooper\u0027s blood in 2002: the tiny blood-stained paint chip and the tan T-shirt. Kristof\u0027s conclusion?Erin Moriarty: You believe, as you\u0027re sitting here right now, that there was evidence planted?Nicholas Kristof: I believe that there was evidence planted.But if that\u0027s true, how did Cooper\u0027s DNA get on those items? Defense attorney Norman Hile has a theory.\u00a0Norman Hile: When Kevin Cooper was arrested \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 they took \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 \u00a0blood from him ... And that\u0027s the blood they could have used.And according to court documents, before the DNA tests were done, a glassine envelope which contained the paint chip was checked out overnight \u00e2\u0080\u0094 signed out to the same criminalist who had matched the blood on it to Cooper. His reason? He said it was to assure there was enough evidence to test. Moriarty spoke to Cooper about it by phone last year.Erin Moriarty: Kevin, what do you believe happened when he took \u00e2\u0080\u00a6the single drop of blood that they say connects you to the case? Kevin Cooper: I think he put either my salvia or blood in there. Or something in there. He had it out for 24 hours. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 And you only sign it and date it when you open the container.Erin Moriarty: And the date is on there. You know, I\u0027ve seen the picture.Kevin Cooper: Yes \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 and so that means he opened it \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 but why did he take it out the vault?As for the T-shirt, a judge who held a hearing on evidence tampering after the DNA tests determined that "The shirt \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 had not been checked out or looked at by anyone prior \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 to DNA testing \u00e2\u0080\u00a6" But that\u0027s not accurate. The state showed "48 Hours" the T-shirt a year before the DNA tests were done \u00e2\u0080\u0094 when"48 Hours" first started looking at the case.Erin Moriarty\u00a0[with T-shirt in 2000]: If you were gonna test this shirt here, you would test it for what?William "Bill" McGuigan | Former Cooper defense team member: To see if there\u0027s any DNA there that can be tested.Later, the defense discovered something alarming about that vial of Cooper\u0027s blood the state had taken for evidence. It was tainted.\u00a0Norman Hile: The vial that contains Kevin Cooper\u0027s blood has a second unidentified person\u0027s DNA \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 on it.Kristof believes there is a suspicious pattern in Cooper\u0027s case.Nicholas Kristof: I think this is unusual in the enormous amount of evidence that suggests that Kevin Cooper was framed, the way consistently a place would be searched, no evidence would be found and then once they knew they were looking at Kevin Cooper, then they would search again. And [snaps his fingers] abracadabra, they would find critical evidence that they needed against him.Former District Attorney Michael Ramos says claims of evidence tampering have been dismissed by both state and federal courts.\u00a0 Michael Ramos: As far as planting evidence, that\u0027s absolutely impossible. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 There was no evidence tampering at all.Yet, after Cooper\u0027s conviction, key people who had worked the on the case got in trouble with the law. Crime lab director William Baird resigned amid allegations of stealing heroin from the property locker. Sheriff Floyd Tidwell was charged with a felony. Norman Hile: Floyd Tidwell was found out \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 to have been taking guns that the sheriff\u0027s department deputies took from people during their normal police activities and sold them.That\u0027s the same Sheriff Tidwell who didn\u0027t want to answer "48 Hours"\u0027 questions about destroying evidence: "Hey, let\u0027s bring this to a screaming halt right here, OK."Nicholas Kristof: It does raise questions about the caliber of the work that was being done in the sheriff\u0027s office.Both Cooper\u0027s defense team and Nicholas Kristof called for new DNA testing and got a huge response from readers, politicians, and even celebrities. Kim Kardashian West sent out a tweet: "Governor Brown, can you please test the DNA of Kevin Cooper?"Erin Moriarty [phone interview]: What was your reaction when she actually went on social media saying you deserve to get testing?Kevin Cooper: I was very thankful \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 that she cared enough and took the time out of her busy life to do that.Erin Moriarty: I understand even the Pope responded?Nicholas Kristof: The Pope weighed in. Yeah, how \u00e2\u0080\u0094 how great is that?Erin Moriarty: You saw the article written by Nicholas Kristof.Michael Ramos: Right.Erin Moriarty: Is he wrong?Michael Ramos: Absolutely wrong \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 And I wish that he would\u0027ve taken the time to go over the evidence. The evidence that was presented at the trial. The evidence that was presented to the appellate courts \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 the federal proceedings \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I truly believe that he didn\u0027t do his homework before writing that one-sided, very one-sided story.Nicholas Kristof: So, if you disagree with [laughs] my conclusions, then test the evidence \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 the best response, if you don\u0027t like my argument, is to prove me wrong with the evidence that is sitting in lockers and has been for 35 years.The defense believes new tests will connect someone else to the murders, but they\u0027ll need the power of California\u0027s governor to make it happen.WHO WORE THE TAN T-SHIRT? Kevin Cooper\u0027s lawyers have long believed Lee Furrow was involved in the murders of the Ryen family and Christopher Hughes. When "48 Hours" found him in 2000, Furrow had moved cross country to Pennsylvania. \u00a0Lee Furrow:\u00a0Here I am and I\u0027m willing to talk to anybodyFurrow was a known killer. He had murdered a 17-year-old nearly a decade before the Chino Hills Massacre. Lee Furrow: I\u0027ve made mistakes in the past and I\u0027ve paid for my mistakes.Erin Moriarty: You consider killing just a mistake?Lee Furrow: Yeah, it was a mistake.Erin Moriarty: How did you kill her?Lee Furrow\u00a0[shakes his head no]: That\u0027s \u00e2\u0080\u0094 you know, between me and the courts.Erin Moriarty: According to testimony in the court, you strangled her. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 Is that correct?Lee Furrow: Yes.Erin Moriarty: Can I ask you point blank, did you kill the Ryen familyLee Furrow: No, I did not.Erin Moriarty: Or Christopher HughesLee Furrow: No, I did not. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I had nothing to do with any of this.Moriarty asked Furrow about those bloody coveralls that his ex-girlfriend gave to authorities.Lee Furrow: I never had any coveralls [shakes his head].Furrow said that at the time of the murders, he had been at a concertMichael Ramos | Former San Bernardino District Attorney: He was 30-plus miles away from the crime scene when this murder occurred.But if California Governor Jerry Brown agrees to retest the evidence the defense hopes they will find a forensic link to Furrow. In 2018, Furrow agreed to give Cooper\u0027s team a sample of his DNA.Erin Moriarty: Were you surprised he was just willing to hand over his DNA?Tom Parker | Defense investigator and retired F.B.I. agent: \u00a0I was astonished that he would be willing to do that. \u00a0And I asked him why and he said he really had nothing to hide.Furrow is seen with a relative at a meeting that was secretly recorded by Investigator Parker: TOM PARKER [WITH FURROW]: Would you mind opening up your mouth? I\u0027ll do this side here.Furrow was willing to give his saliva, but not his blood.LEE FURROW: I\u0027m not doing blood work and end up on evidence like whatever they did to Kevin Cooper.TOM PARKER: You never had a tan T-shirt like that?LEE FURROW: No. Never.TOM PARKER: That\u0027s not what you had on?LEE FURROW: No.TOM PARKER: OK, well DNA\u0027s gonna tell us \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 even 35 years later, those skin cells are still gonna be there.LEE FURROW: Good "48 Hours" went back to Furrow\u0027s door again in January 2019. This time he wouldn\u0027t talk to us.While the defense team pushed for new DNA tests, the only survivor of the massacre was pushing back.\u00a0 Josh Ryen doesn\u0027t think any more DNA tests are needed to determine who killed his family in 1983. In a letter to Governor Brown, he wrote: "Kevin Cooper is on my mind every day. He is a nightmare which plays over and over in my head. I can never get away from him."Christopher Hughes\u0027 mother Mary Ann agrees.Mary Ann Hughes: There\u0027s just no doubt Kevin Cooper was the only one and the only killer and they need to carry out the sentence that he was given.But Cooper, facing death, still insists he\u0027s innocent.Kevin Cooper\u00a0[on the phone with Moriarty]: I cannot take responsibility for murders I did not commit.\u00a0Then, in December 2018, Cooper got a surprise.KCBS NEWS REPORT: Two weeks before leaving office, Governor Jerry Brown tonight has issued an executive order directing DNA testing carried out in one of the most shocking and brutal murder cases\u00e2\u0080\u00a6Erin Moriarty: \u00a0How did you hear about it?Kevin Cooper: I found out about it on Christmas morning when I was watching the news.The governor\u0027s order allowed only four items to be tested: the hatchet, the tan t-shirt, an orange towel that was found next to it, and the hatchet sheath discovered in the house where Cooper was hiding.Kevin Cooper: \u00a0I\u0027m just trying to stay positive and hopeful but I\u0027m also skeptical.Erin Moriarty: So, are these DNA tests really a matter of life or death?Norman Hile: They are for Mr. Cooper, for sure.But then, just two months later, Cooper got more good news. The new governor of California, Gavin Newsom, ordered more testing \u00e2\u0080\u0094 including that vial of Cooper\u0027s blood.Erin Moriarty: Why do you think Governor Newsom so quickly added the number of tests?Norman Hile: Well, I like to think that it\u0027s because he saw in the clemency petition \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 that there was significant doubt about whether Kevin Cooper was guiltyNewsom also suspended executions in California. San Quentin\u0027s lethal injection facility was dismantled and hauled out of the prison.But Kevin Cooper remains on death row.Erin Moriarty: [Walking to visitor\u0027s center with Hile]: So, I\u0027m finally getting to meet Kevin Cooper face to face after all these years.Last spring, Moriarty went to San Quentin prison with attorney Norman Hile.It\u0027s the first time she had seen Cooper in person. "48 Hours" was not allowed to record the visit, but we talked for hours.\u00a0 Even after all this time, Cooper is confident he will eventually walk out a free man.Erin Moriarty: The fact that he could now have so much of the evidence tested, do you see a difference in Kevin?Norman Hile: \u00a0I think he\u0027s very cautious about really trying to predict what\u0027s going to happen and trying to get too optimistic \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 We\u0027re worried that something nefarious could happen and that the testing will not show his innocenceKim Kardashian West also went to see Cooper and she shared her visit with her millions of followers.Cooper continues to wait for the test results, but his team says they are not relying on that. They have new information, they say, that has nothing to do with DNA.Norman Hile: We have the three people who have now testified under oath in a form of a declaration that Lee F \u00e2\u0080\u0094 Furrow conf\u00e2\u0080\u0094 confessed to them \u00e2\u0080\u00a6A DISTURBING DISCOVERYKevin Cooper is 62 years old. He\u0027s now been on San Quentin\u0027s death row for more than half his life.Kevin Cooper: I\u0027m doing as best I can, despite my situation. I\u0027m strong, mentally, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. And I continue to fight.It\u0027s been one disappointment after another in his bid to prove his innocence.\u00a0 And now, after a year of DNA testing, more disappointment.Bicka Barlow: This evidence was collected years and years and years ago.Defense attorney Bicka Barlow, a DNA specialist, says the tests confirmed her biggest fear: that the DNA is too degraded for even modern testing.Bicka Barlow: \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 at the time, evidence wasn\u0027t handled very well. It wasn\u0027t stored well.Erin Moriarty: Do you know as you are sitting here today who was wearing that t-shirt?Bicka Barlow: No.Erin Moriarty: And why not? \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 We know that this t-shirt was used in these murders. Why don\u0027t we know who was wearing it?Bicka Barlow: We don\u0027t know for lots of reasons, but the DNA testing didn\u0027t tell us anything.The lab was unable to find even one full DNA profile anywhere on the tan T-shirt that could be matched to a wearer.Bicka Barlow: I\u0027m sure for Kevin Cooper it is incredibly disappointing \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 you know maybe we would have gotten different results 10 years or 20 years ago, but that\u0027s not what happened.It was much the same story for most of the other evidence.Bicka Barlow: \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 testing was done on \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 the hatchet, the hatchet sheath, the fingernail scrapings from the victims, and we got no conclusive results. Bicka Barlow [ pointing to iPad]: So, this is the orange towel that was found with the tan T-shirtThey had better luck with that orange towel \u00e2\u0080\u0093 the one believed to have been taken from the Ryen home. A full DNA profile was found on the towel.Bicka Barlow: We have a single male profile that is not Kevin Cooper\u0027s.Barlow says the profile doesn\u0027t match Cooper or any of the victims, but it also doesn\u0027t match Lee Furrow. It was uploaded into CODIS, a national database of known offenders, but again there was no match.\u00a0 Erin Moriarty: To be honest, this is a towel inside a family home, it could be a full profile of somebody who was visiting the Ryens.Normal Hile: It could be all sorts of people.Bicka Barlow: All of that blood had to go somewhereThere was one unexpected and disturbing discovery made during the testing. Bicka Barlow: You look at all of these blood vials and they all have a substantial amount of blood in them.But the vial that has contained Kevin Cooper\u0027s blood since he was arrested in 1983 is empty. \u00a0Bicka Barlow: \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 have an entire vial disappear like that raises all sorts of questions in my mind. \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 \u00a0I can\u0027t understand how all that blood could have been consumed in testing.Erin Moriarty: And when you say questions, what do you mean by that?Bicka Barlow I don\u0027t know what to think \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I know my questions are where did the blood go? Was it taken out deliberately and placed someplace else? There\u0027s so much evidence of bad behavior by the police in this investigation that frankly it wouldn\u0027t surprise me if somebody took blood from that vial and dropped it on things.\u00a0Cooper has always claimed that his blood had been planted. The defense is still waiting for more test results, including the painstaking process of testing those light-colored hairs found in Jessica Ryen\u0027s hand.Norman Hile: If you look at what we have so far, Kevin is not tied to these crimes through any of this testing.Even without DNA tests that definitively tie someone else to the murders, Hile says he now has other evidence that does. The team found five new witnesses who connect Lee Furrow to the crime. Tom Parker: We have found witnesses that in one case, Lee Furrow, confessed to shortly after the murders. Gave a detailed confession to this individual, who I\u0027m sure he never would have believed would ever go to the police.Two of those witnesses came forward after they watched "48 Hours"\u0027 broadcast last year. For now, they want to remain anonymous. Erin Moriarty: What makes you believe these \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 men are credible? I mean how do you know they might not have a beef with him?Tom Parker | Defense investigator: Obviously you don\u0027t take \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 confessions just at face value \u00e2\u0080\u0094 you dig into them. Their backgrounds are such that contribute to their credibility.One witness vividly recalled Furrow saying "we butchered all of them." And another witness gave details about Furrow\u0027s alleged accomplices that are shocking.Tom Parker | Defense investigator: \u00a0It was a surprise, quite frankly \u00e2\u0080\u00a6Tom Parker: We have statements from people that there were two women involved \u00e2\u0080\u0094 on this killing team along with \u00e2\u0080\u0094 Lee Furrow.Erin Moriarty: But doesn\u0027t that contradict the witnesses at the Canyon Corral Bar \u00e2\u0080\u0094 -they all said it was three men?Tom Parker: Yeah, I have been told that at least one of the \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 women could have been mistaken for a man based on the clothing that was bein\u0027 worn.Both women named by the new witnesses did hang out with Lee Furrow. Hile says he and his team are following this lead.\u00a0Norman Hile: Fewer than one out of five cases are solved by DNA testing. There\u0027s a lot of other ways in which people are exonerated, a lot of other ways in which the truth emerges.Two months ago, Cooper\u0027s defense team asked \u00e2\u0080\u0094 actually pleaded with \u00e2\u0080\u0094 Governor Newsom to go beyond DNA tests and take a fresh look at Cooper\u0027s claims that evidence had been tampered with and planted. In a 152-page petition, they made a case for a full innocence investigation.Erin Moriarty: Does this feel like a really tough, uphill battle?Norman Hile: \u00a0Always has [laughs].The current San Bernardino district attorney, Jason Anderson, says his office is participating in the testing, but he won\u0027t comment until all of the results are provided. Governor Newsom has not responded to Kevin Cooper\u0027s request for an innocence investigation, but Cooper is not giving up hope.Kevin Cooper: I cannot give up \u00e2\u0080\u00a6 I will not give up.Attorneys for both sides are working out the details for Kevin Cooper\u0027s new DNA tests. The testing is expected to take place in the next few months.