Posted: 06/08/2013 08:01:08 PM PDT
Updated: 06/08/2013 11:47:01 PM PDT
Crime like no other
Dennis Kottmeier, who was both the San Bernardino County district attorney and lead prosecutor on the Cooper case, noticed a difference in the then-unincorporated community of Chino Hills.
"Everybody bought guns," he said in a recent phone interview. "You have to realize this wasn't just a murder that had some sort of explanation.... This was a family that had been killed in their home while they were trying to sleep. Not just killed but butchered.
"To this day I don't remember anything like this."
The trial took about four months, Kottmeier said, and within a year of the conviction, the California Supreme Court had verified Cooper's sentence.
Expecting the execution to happen, Kottmeier joined the Hughes family in February 2004 at San Quentin.
But hours before he was to be put to death, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals gave Cooper a stay, allowing the defense to file more motions and eventually conduct new DNA results.
"It took about two months but everything came back showing that Cooper had done the killings," Kottmeier said. "There was no doubt in the testing that he did it."
But that wasn't the end of it.
The defense wanted more, Kottmeier said, referring to the appeals, petitions and requests made over the years that have stalled Cooper's execution.
"I didn't think we were sending him to die of old age," Kottmeier said. "At the end of this, I thought he would be executed."