Ohio Court Must Consider DNA Testing for Death Row Inmate
Ohio’s Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a Portage County court must reconsider DNA testing for a death row inmate who was convicted of the 1990 murders of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig, an elderly couple.
Tyrone Noling’s previous requests for advanced DNA testing on a cigarette butt found at the scene of the crime were denied by the lower court. Previous DNA testing of the cigarette butt had excluded Noling, but Noling argues that more sophisticated testing may now be able to identify the source of the DNA.
The high court pointed to new standards and expanded criteria for testing approved by Ohio lawmakers in 2010 as their basis for allowing the appeal. The
Carrie Wood, Noling’s attorney from the University of Cincinnati-based Ohio Innocence Project, said the ruling is another step in helping prove Noling’s innocence but is also a victory for others struggling to get DNA testing approved.
“When the new law was passed in 2010, the legislature made it clear that there needs to be more testing in cases and not less,” Wood said. “Specifically, the Supreme Court found that DNA’s ability to identify the source, or a specific individual, should be significant in the decision to grant DNA testing.”
Noling and Wood remain hopeful that the county court will order testing on the cigarette butt in order to compare the DNA samples to that of an alternative suspect.
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