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New tests show crime scene DNA did not come from a former Akron police captain convicted of killing his ex-wife more than a decade ago. But will that be enough to order a new trial or give Doug Prade his freedom?
UPDATED 2:43 p.m.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, however, says the evidence is not compelling enough to warrant Prade's release from prison and offers "...no new evidence that proves Prade's claim of evidence.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judith Hunter has set a hearing for August 21 on a motion from the Ohio Innocence Project, which has championed Prade's cause.
Prade, 66, is serving a life sentence in prison after he was found guilty of shooting his ex-wife, Akron doctor Margo Prade, in 1998.
Carrie Wood, an attorney with the Ohio Innocence Project, says DNA from a bite mark was found on the lab coat Margo was wearing when the attack took place.
"The test results that were announced today, found male DNA inside that bite mark area which excluded Mr. Prade," Wood said.
The DNA testing shows it was a man who left the bite mark, but it was not from Doug Prade.
"Today is the day where validated DNA science and the truth triumph over junked science and a wrongful conviction," said Wood in a prepared statement.
Attorneys with the Ohio Innocence Project have filed a motion asking a Summit County Common Pleas judge to grant Prade a new trial.
DNA Not From Akron Police Captain In Murder Case by Amani Abraham
This afternoon there was a response from the Summit County Prosecutor's Office to the Prade DNA report.
Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh announced that a hearing has been set for August 21 in the Prade case.
"No one in my office wants to see an innocent person behind bars,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “We requested extensive DNA testing well beyond what the Innocence Project requested, and we have carefully reviewed all of the available evidence. There is no new evidence that proves Mr. Prade’s claim of innocence. The jury’s verdict should not be overturned.”
Walsh says in briefs filed with the Court, the State pointed out several flaws in Prade’s theory. "This new DNA evidence does not identify any new suspect, nor do we know when this DNA was deposited on the lab coat. According to Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation experts, the DNA is most likely a result of incidental transfer."
At the next hearing, Judge Judy Hunter’s determination will result in one of three potential actions:
Prade is innocent and therefore his case should be dismissed,
There is new evidence to warrant a new trial, or
There is no new evidence and the conviction should stand.
The effort by Akron convicted murderer Doug Prade to win a new trial continued in Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter's courtroom on Tuesday.
Prade's attorneys and the Summit County Prosecutor conducted a status hearing that lasted nearly two hours to discuss DNA testing that is ongoing as Prade tries to prove his claim that he didn't kill his ex-wife Dr. Margo Prade in 1997.
Prade, a former Akron police officer, has been trying for several years to obtain DNA evidence he claims will clear him as Dr. Prade's killer.
Attorneys for the Innocence Project participated in the status hearing.
The DNA testing will continue, and another status hearing has been scheduled for April 18th.
Former Akron Police Captain Doug Prade got his wish more than a year ago: Additional DNA testing that he says will prove he did not murder his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade, in 1998.
It's now been 14 months since the items designated for testing were sent to a private lab near Dayton and no results have been released.
AkronNewsNow talked with Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Mary Ann Kovach and Attorney Carrie Wood with the Ohio Innocence Project, which now represents Prade. Both lawyers emphasized that they cannot talk specifically about the Prade case, but both still offered insight about the length of time it takes for DNA testing to be complete.
DNA Testing Kovach and Wood by Akron NewsNow
Kovach says she would expect the more complicated Mitochondrial DNA or YSTR testing to take several months.
"But it shouldn't take a year," said Kovach. "To me, that's a long time, unless they're testing so many objects. They can only run so many tests at at time."
Wood says people, including some court officials, believe that locating, removing, testing and analyzing the one-of-a-kind identifier takes about as long as it does on television shows, something that she says is simply not true.
"It depends on the type of DNA testing," said Wood. "It depends on the type of evidence. It depends on the age of the evidence and the age of the case. It depends on the type of DNA that you're trying to extract."
Wood also says that sometimes initial testing creates additional questions that need to be answered, so it's difficult to predict.
Another high profile Summit County case is also on hold while post-conviction DNA testing is conducted. Denny Ross convinced the court that the tests are necessary. His retrial for the 1999 murder of Hannah Hill remains scheduled for March. A hearing will be held Tuesday.
The Prade case is expected to be updated next month.
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