AKRON, Ohio - After 12 years, the retrial of Denny Ross began in Akron Monday morning. Ross is charged with murder, felonious assault and abuse of a corpse in connection to the May 1999 murder of Hannah Hill. A judge declared a mistrial in 2000.
Hill's mother, Kimberly, testified about the final hours with her daughter. She talked about the "scared" look on her face before she left that fateful night, May 19, 1999, after receiving or making what police believe was her final phone call.
(You can learn more about Hannah Hill and Denny Ross by following this link: on.wews.com/NUzyj9.)
A former Akron police officer and current sergeant testified about the protocol for filing a police report and the importance of doing so in a timely fashion.
During opening statements, prosecutors painted the picture of Denny Ross as Hill's murderer, but the defense said the evidence will show there's no way Ross could've committed the crime, noting his whereabouts on May 19, 1999 were documented and confirmed by multiple people. They focused heavily on phone records from that year, saying none of the parties involved had cellphones so the call records from landlines and times will be ever so important in this case.
"Pay attention closlely to the times," Ross's defense attorney advised jurors. They seem to be trying to link Hill's boyfriend at the time, Brad Oborn, to the crimes.
Before opening statements and testimony began, jurors took a visit to a pair of important locations in the retrial. First, they visited Ross's former apartment on Canton Road. They weren't allowed to talk during their trip, but the judge's bailiff pointed out several key items when they were on site. Media wasn't allowed inside the structure.
(CLICK the following link to see a photo gallery of the crime scenes: http://5.wews.com/Dcx)
A bus then drove the nine women and three men to another site: Caine and Quayle roads. Jurors walked up and down Caine Road and stopped to look at where Hill's gold Geo Prizm was parked for days before Akron police discovered her half-naked body inside the trunk.
The purpose of viewing the locations is so that jurors can have a better understanding of the area when it's discussed in court.
Jurors will have every Tuesday off, as Judge Hunter has criminal call days. They were ordered back in court at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and advised not to discuss the case with anyone.
You can follow @WEWScourt on Twitter for updates throughout the retrial.
BLOG FROM MONDAY'S PROCEEDINGS:
4:07 p.m. Judge adjourns court for the day. Jurors will have Tuesdays off throughout the duration of the retrial. Tuesdays are the judge's criminal call day. The jury will be back in the courtroom at 9 a.m. on Aug. 22.
3:55 p.m.: Mullins is still testifying, going over the intricacies of writing police reports, crime scene sketches, etc. He says how reports are written today varies drastically from when they wrote them in 1999. Back then, they didn't write in active voice and with as much detail.
3:25 p.m.: After a brief 10 minute break, prosecutors call Akron police Sgt. Jeffrey Mullins to testify about the protocol of taking missing persons reports. Mullins says the purpose of such reports is to document police actions. The paperwork is the only official record of action taken by police officers. Mullins says he asked Officer Nouse to enter Hannah Hill into the LEADS system (their database for missing people), where officers check license plates, car registrations, driver license information, etc.
"We felt there was something to be concerned about," said Mullins.
3 p.m.: Kimberly Hill dismissed from witness stand. State calls John Nouse, a former Akron police officer, to testify. Nouse investigated the missing person's report of Hannah Hill. He said he told a sergeant to process Hill's report, but it wasn't entered into the system until days later.
2:43 p.m.: Kimberly Hill is now being cross examined by Ross's defense attorneys. They're questioning Kimberly about the night her daughter disappeared. Kimberly said Ross wasn't at her daughter's funeral because he was in jail at the time.
2 p.m.: Prosecutors call their first witness. Kimberly Hill is Hannah Hill's mother. She's requested not to be photographed. Kimberly is talking about her daughter's job at Diebold in 1999 and how she was happy to be able to pay for her own car. Kimberly is recalling the night leading up to Hannah's murder and the "scared" look on her daughter's face before she left the house between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. on May 19, 1999. That was the last day her family saw her alive.
Kimberly talked about her daughter's heart condition and when she was hospitalized. Kimberly says they banned Brad Oborn from visiting because "we didn't trust him."
1:45 p.m.: Judge calls 10 minute break before testimony begins.
1:40 p.m.: No blood of Hannah Hill was found in the apartment of Denny Ross, according to his defense attorneys. They also say trash bags inside Denny Ross's apartment
didn't match the trash bag Hannah Hill's clothes were found in outside Ross's apartment.
1:32 p.m.: Defense attorneys say jurors will later hear a recorded conversation between detectives and Denny Ross. In it, Ross says Hill called him before coming over. Ross said they started talking about Brad Oborn and how he had been in jail, plus the abusive relationship he had with Hannah.
"One thing led to another and then we kissed and stuff like that," defense attorneys said, quoting Ross at the time. Defense attorneys are painting a timeline of events in the Hill murder andhow Ross couldn't have committed the crime. They also said Ross didn't have sex with Hanna Hill.
1:25 p.m.: Attorneys for Ross are showing jurors photos of Hill's injuries after she was hit on the head with a "heavy object." They say it appears she was dragged after being murdered. About 10 hours after Hill has found dead, detectives with Akron police interviewed Brad Oborn, Hill's boyfriend. "Detectives write that Oborn's recollection of events of the prior week are not accurate. It's obvious Oborn was purposely lying to me." Attorneys say this is the third detective to say something "wasn't right" with Oborn.
1:08 p.m.: Counsel for Ross is showing jurors a detailed map of where Hill's car was found, with her name clearly written on the license plate: Hannah Hill loves Brad Oborn. Despite calls from Ellet neighbors to Akron police reporting the mysterious vehicle on Caine Road, police fail to investigate. But officers come out and ticket the car, never looking into the situation further.
1:04 p.m.: "The phone records prove when Denny Ross was home that night. It will show Denny Ross's time is accounted for at the time Hannah Hill was murdered," said Ross's defense attorney. "Phone records, independent witnesses and travel times will show how he can't be the person who murdered Hannah Hill."
12:53 p.m.: Defense attorneys for Denny Ross are now addressing jurors. They're detailing a fight between Hill and boyfriend Brad Oborn the night before she went missing. Oborn had scratches all over his back, which defense attorneys say jurors will see later as evidence. Counsel says it's important to note they didn't have cellphones in 1999, but Hill and Ross had pagers. Defense attorneys say the phone records are important because it will show the time of Hill's death. "At 8:56 p.m., we believe Hannah made the last phone call of her life to Brad Oborn," said the attorney.
12:51 p.m.: "Hold Denny Ross accountable for the murder of Hannah Hill. At the end of the day ladies and gentlemen, it's his words that bring us here to this courtroom. It's his DNA found on her body," prosecutors said as they wrapped up their opening statements.
12:42 p.m.: Prosecutors are detailing the day Akron police found Hill's half-naked body in the trunk of her car with feces everywhere and her body conformed in an offensive, sexual manner.
12:40 p.m.: Prosecutors: You will hear from "oodles" of people who will come in here who participated in one way or another in the investigation of this case. They will tell jurors what they did, how they did it and why they did it.
12:38 p.m.: Prosecutors say Hill's boyfriend Brad Oborn isn't a suspect because he was visibly upset about Hill's disappearance and cooperated with authorities.
12:30 p.m.: Assistant prosecutors say Denny Ross "had a thing" for Hannah Hill, but "Hannah wouldn't give him the time of day." They're detailing the "extensive partying that took place in that apartment," including drugs and drinking. They're referring to the apartment on Canton Road where Ross once lived. Prosecutors have a posterboard setup with the "players" involved. It shows 10 people, with Ross and Hill at the top.
12:25 p.m.: Faraglia is detailing "the cast of characters" in the case and going over Hill's life and how she was getting ready for her first job before she was killed. "The evidence will show that on that fateful evening of May 19, 1999, Hannah Hill leaves her Kenmore home in her Geo Prizm never to return."
12:20 p.m.: Assistant prosecutor Anna Faraglia begins opening statements, telling jurors Denny Ross caused the death of Hannah Hill after beating her. Faraglia says opening statements is like a road map of what the State thinks the evidence will show in this case.
12:05 p.m.: Judge Hunter says each side will be limited to one hour for opening statements. Testimony will likely begin around 2:15 p.m.
11:30 a.m.: Judge Hunter tells jurors to go to lunch. Opening statement are slated to begin at 12:15 p.m. Meanwhile, Denny Ross is eating next to his attorneys in court and sipping on a Diet Coke.
11:05 a.m.: The bus takes jurors three miles away to Caine Road and Quayle Road, the location where Hannah Hill's body was found stuffed in the trunk of her car on May 26, 1999. Jurors observed the sites, looking at specific areas the bailiff pointed out, but were not allowed to ask any questions or talk.
10:15 a.m.: Jurors take
a bus ride to the Canton Road apartment where Denny Ross used to live.
9:26 a.m.: Judge Hunter explains to jurors that they will see two locations important in the case. "What you observe outside the courtroom, is not evidence. Conditions may have changed since the case. The evidence of the physical appearance of the scene will come to you later on in the trial from the witness stand. The purpose of the visit is to help you understand the evidence as it's presented in court." Jurors will now ride together on a bus to the sites, under the supervision of the bailiff. Jurors are not allowed to talk during the tour about the case, but the bailiff will point out items of interest. Denny Ross is not going to the sites, per previous arrangements.
9:20 a.m.: Judge Hunter, jurors and counsel arrive in the courtroom. Judge Hunter is now reading jurors the charges Denny Ross is officially facing, noting the "language in which they're worded."
9:08 a.m.: Denny Ross arrives to Judge Judy Hunter's courtroom, dressed in a white collared shirt. Proceedings were slated to begin at 9 a.m., but have yet to start. When they do, Judge Hunter will instruct jurors on the first order of business: a jury view of two locations important to the case.
You can follow this link to see a map of the area jurors will see: http://on.wews.com/ONWFRn.
Ross originally stood trial in 2000 for Hill's murder, but a judge declared a mistrial after learning jurors had discussed a lie detector test.
After more than a decade of appeals from Ross’s attorneys, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in Dec. 2010 that Ross could be retried, however, the death penalty couldn't be considered.
Ross is currently serving a 25-year sentence in the Trumbull Correctional Institution after being convicted in 2004 of raping an Akron woman, a crime he committed while free on bond in the Hill case.
You can also visit our special section dedicated to the retrial, http://on.wews.com/NUzyj9, which includes videos of Ross in court over the years and a 13-year timeline of events. You can also learn more about who Denny Ross is and about the life of Hannah Hill.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.