Former Ohio Police Captain Cleared of Murder Based On DNA Evidence

January 29, 2013

Ohio Innocence Project client Douglas Prade was cleared Tuesday of a 1997 murder based on new DNA results that exclude him as the source. Prade served nearly 15 years in prison for the crime.

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. The victim’s body was discovered slumped behind the wheel of her car in her office parking lot. She was shot six times and had a bite mark on her arm. When DNA testing results proved inconclusive at trial, prosecutors’ used unscientific bite mark analysis to match Prade to the bite mark, reported WYKYC (NBC- Cleveland).

Prade’s attorneys at the Ohio Innocence Project and the law firm of Jones Day sought post-conviction DNA testing for nearly a decade. New, more sophisticated DNA testing conducted in 2010 revealed male DNA that did not belong to Prade. At a hearing in October, a judge heard expert testimony about the new evidence.

Summit County Judge Judy Hunter’s 26-page decision threw out the murder conviction and ordered Prade’s release from prison. In considering the new DNA evidence, Judge Hunter wrote in her ruling’s conclusion:

The Court finds that no reasonable juror, when carefully considering all available evidence in the underlying trial in light of the new Y-STR DNA exclusion evidence, would be firmly convinced that the Defendant Douglas Prade was guilty of aggravated murder with a firearm. Given such a scenario, the outcome of the deliberation on these offenses would be different—the verdict forms would be completed with a finding of not guilty.

The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office plans to appeal Judge Hunter’s decision.