Prosecutors Want Prade Jailed after Appellate Ruling
More than a year after
Ohio Innocence Project
client Douglas Prade was cleared of a 1997 murder based on new DNA results that excluded him as the source of critical crime scene evidence, an appellate court has reversed the ruling that freed him. Prade was a former Akron police captain when he was convicted in 1998 of the murder of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade, and sentenced to life in prison. He served nearly 15 years in prison before his release early last year.
Akron Beacon Journal
reported that the 71-page reversal opinion released Wednesday by Akron’s 9th District Court of Appeals could send Prade back to prison. In a statement issued after the opinion became public, Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh said the ruling gives her office the authority to take him into custody.
Prade was declared innocent in January 2013 by now retired Summit County Judge Judy Hunter. The judge’s decision was based on the results of new DNA tests which showed that DNA found on a bite mark left of the victim when she was murdered did not belong to Prade, but Walsh claims his attorneys failed to show clear and convincing evidence of his actual innocence.
The three-judge panel claimed that Judge Hunter abused her discretion in declaring Prade innocent and said that the DNA exclusion was not grounds for exoneration. The opinion went on to support the evidence against Prade presented at trial.
Prade, who is now living with family members on Akron’s west side, has yet to be taken into custody. His attorneys at the Ohio Innocence Project and David B. Alden of the Jones Day firm in Cleveland will oppose any such action by seeking a stay in a Summit County court hearing, and possibly in an appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Alden told the
, “We strongly disagree with the Court of Appeals’ decision. The trial court correctly determined that Mr. Prade is actually innocent, and we will continue to work for justice on his behalf.”
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