Cases & Deals

Inmate is exonerated by trial court in appellate and Ohio Supreme Court proceedings

Clients Prade, Douglas

On January 29, 2013, the Summit County Common Pleas Court granted Jones Day's client Douglas Prade's petition for postconviction relief and ordered his immediate release, which release occurred late that day. In September 1998, former Akron Police Captain Douglas Prade was convicted of murdering his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade, based in substantial part on expert testimony tying a bite mark on Dr. Prade's arm to Douglas Prade's dentition. DNA testing conducted in 1998 identified only Dr. Prade's DNA (from her blood) on her clothing over the killer's bite mark. Due to advances in DNA testing technology since 1998, Mr. Prade sought new DNA testing in the area of Dr. Prade's clothing over the killer's bite mark. After the trial court denied his request for new DNA testing in February 2008, Jones Day took on the case and, after the intermediate appellate court affirmed, convinced the Ohio Supreme Court to reverse the trial court's order and remand for a determination by the trial court of whether new testing was warranted under the Ohio DNA testing statute. In September 2010, Jones Day convinced the trial court to order new testing on remand, which testing was completed in June 2012. That testing showed both that there was male DNA on the victim's clothing over the killer's bite mark and that the male DNA was not Douglas Prade's. In a four-day evidentiary hearing in October 2012, Jones Day (David Alden and Lisa Gates) presented testimony from (1) two DNA testing experts, both of whom said that the new DNA test results establish that Mr. Prade is not Dr. Prade's killer; (2) a bite mark expert, who testified that bite mark identification lacks an established scientific basis; and (3) an eyewitness memory expert, who testified that there are substantial reasons to doubt eyewitness testimony that was presented at trial in 1998. Jones Day also cross-examined the State's two DNA experts, who characterized the new DNA test results as inconclusive, and the State's bite mark identification expert. The Summit County Common Pleas Court's January 29, 2013 ruling was based on the evidence presented at the October 2012 evidentiary hearing. The State appealed and, on March 19, 2014, the intermediate appellate court reversed, finding that the trial court abused its discretion in making its findings of fact. On March 19, 2014, the defendant filed a notice of appeal with The Supreme Court of Ohio and moved for a stay pending resolution of the appeal. On March 20, 2014, The Supreme Court of Ohio granted the motion for a stay temporarily pending full briefing and a ruling on the merits of the motion for a stay. The temporary stay remains in effect pending a further ruling from The Supreme Court of Ohio. The defendant's memorandum in support of The Supreme Court of Ohio taking jurisdiction over the case is due on May 5, 2014.

State v. Prade, No. CR 98 0463 (Ct. C.P. Summit Cty., Ohio)

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