BLOG: Witnesses testify at Denny Ross retrial in 1999 murder of Hannah Hill in Akron

AKRON, Ohio - Denny Ross is accused of killing Hannah Hill in 1999 and stuffing her body in the trunk of her car on Caine Road in Ellet. Ross is charged with murder, felonious assault and abuse of a corpse in connection to the murder. A judge declared a mistrial in 2000.

The most notable testimony Monday came from a former friend of Denny Ross. Daniel Doyle took the stand and talked about the day Ross told him he would kill Hannah Hill because he thought she got him busted on cocaine charges.

The two were making small talk after buying a blue Thunderbird Super Coupe from an auction weeks before Hill went missing.

Doyle told jurors that Ross said, "If I find out Hannah narked me out, I'm gonna kill that b****."

Doyle never testified during Ross's 2000 trial.

Ross is accused of killing Hill in May 1999 and stuffing her body in the trunk of her car on Caine Road in Ellet. Ross is charged with murder, felonious assault and abuse of a corpse.

Several other witnesses also took the stand Monday. One talked about seeing Hill's car parked on Caine Road for days and calling police about it, but it was nearly a week before the vehicle was investigated.

Paul Callahan, who was deputy chief of Akron police at the time Hill was murdered, admitted there were mistakes in the handling of the case, specifically with the civilian call takers who he said "missed the call" from residents reporting the unfamiliar car parked on an Ellet road.

Callahan, who oversaw the investigation, graphically recalled the day he found Hill's body stuffed in her car trunk.

"I saw Hannah Hill's body placed in the trunk of this car in a position that would make it striking to anybody who witnessed it, like it was planned that way…exposing her."

Testimony in the Ross retrial resumes on Aug. 29 at 9 a.m.

Below is the blog from Monday's testimony:

3:22 p.m.: Prosecutors don't have any more witnesses to testify today so court ends early. Testimony will resume Wed., Aug. 29 at 9 a.m. in Summit County Common Pleas Court. Tuesdays are Judge Hunter's criminal call day.

3:04 p.m.: Judge Hunter calls brief 10 minute break after dismissing Benson from the witness stand.

2:58 p.m.: Benson talks about chatting with O'Born's roommate, Harold Pryor, about an argument O'Born got into with Hill days before she went missing. Benson says O'Born's roommate recalled seeing Hill last on Wednesday morning, May 19, 1999, walking out of O'Born's apartment with two plastic bags. He couldn't elaborate on what kind of plastic bags she was carrying. The bags are important to the case because a bag of Hill's clothes were found outside Ross's apartment window. Defense lawyers maintain Ross didn't have garbage bags in his house that matched what the clothes were found in. O'Born earlier testified he didn't even own garbage bags in his apartment.

2:40 p.m.: Ross's defense lawyer asks Benson if he recalls interviews from that day in 1999 when Hill was found murdered. He looks at the document to refresh his memory and recalls saying O'Born's "recollection" of events leading up to Hill murder didn't seem right.

2:25 p.m.: The State calls retired Akron police detective Vincent Benson to testify. Benson worked in the child abuse unit in the 90s.

Benson says the start of his investigation into Hill's disappearance took him to Diebold, Hill's employer. There, he was told Hill was a "nice person, quiet and was dedicated to her job." Her not showing up for her first day full-time on the job was unusual.

Then, detectives returned to the police station and received a search warrant to Brad O'Born's house on Kling Street, the boyfriend of Hill at the time. Once at the home, they searched "as best we could. We didn't really come up with too much there."

2:10 p.m.: Graves says when she learned Hill was missing, the first place she thought Hill would be was Denny Ross's apartment. Graves called Ross asking if he saw Hill and he said no. Once Graves learned Hill was murdered, she drove to Ross's apartment where his roommate Ron Hupp (who was originally arrested for Hill's murder and spent 5 months in prison for it) wouldn't let Graves inside, but let her friend in.

"We just wanted to be nosy. See if we saw blood or something," said Graves.

1:50 p.m.: White is excused from court. Prosecutors call on Theresa Graves to address jurors. Graves tells of drug parties at Denny Ross's apartment with Hannah Hill in 1999. Graves says the drug of choice then was cocaine.

Graves detailed getting beat up at Ross's apartment by another woman while he watched. Under cross examination, Graves said Ross eventually broke up the bloody fight and took her to the hospital. But Ross wouldn't allow her to call police for help at his place.

1:20 p.m.: Court is back in session. After a few questions by Ross's defense attorney, Warters is dismissed. The State calls Larry White, a retired Akron police sergeant, to testify. White was a radio room sergeant who supervised civilian call takers (those who called 911) in


12:15 p.m.: Counsel sidebars. The State asks Judge Hunter to make the defense comply with their evidence requests, saying they haven't seen some of the documents defense attorneys have talked about. The State now has 45 minutes to look over items in question. Lunch break called. Court will resume around 1 p.m.

12:05 p.m.: Warters wasn't a police officer at the time of Hill's murder, but his name has been brought up extensively during prior testimony. He says he was "sickened" when he heard of Hill's murder and that he never heard of Denny Ross at that time. Warters was originally questioned by detectives in Hill's murder.

"It made me feel uncomfortable," Warters said.

Warters stopped hanging out with Hill two months before she disappeared because he was in a relationship and Hannah was getting more involved with Brad O'Born.

11:50 a.m.: Callahan testimony wraps up. The State calls another witness, R. Warters, an Akron police officer, to testify. A now Waynesburg police officer is testifying about he and Hannah's "close" relationship.

"We were always around each other," said Warters at the Denny Ross retrial.

11:29 a.m.: Court is back in session. Callahan tells prosecutors he had no pressure to solve the Hill case quickly. Callahan says "it's impossible" to set a deadline to solve a case or track down a murderer.

11:04 a.m.: Ross's defense asks Callahan if it's common for a detective to measure the seat of a car from its pedals. Callahan says that could be important, while noting someone could also move the seat back. "True," replied counsel.

The judge calls for a brief 10 minute break.

10:48 a.m.: Callahan says Hill was "regrettably" just a missing person initially because there was no reason to suggest suspicious activity.

10:41 a.m.: Callahan is now being questioned by Ross's attorney, asking him if at that time the department was under a lot of fire for issues within the department. Callahan says no, civilians were punished for their handling of the missing person's case from the call center.

10:33 a.m.: Callahan oversaw the investigation into the Hannah Hill murder and recalls finding her body on May 26, 1999 on Caine Road in Ellet.

"I saw Hannah Hill's body placed in the trunk of this car in a position that would make it striking to anybody who witnessed it, like it was planned that way."

He graphically described how Hannah's body was placed in a humiliating way, "exposing her."

10:25 a.m.: Paul Callahan says a number of detectives responded to Caine Road to investigate the suspicious car, which turned out to be Hannah Hill's. Callahan says residents were furious with the department for their delay in the investigation.

"The civilian call center gets thousands of calls," says Callahan. A civilian answered the Hill call "and missed it," in regard to noting the unfamiliar car parked on Caine Road.

10:15 a.m.: Paul Callahan, who was deputy chief of Akron police in 1999 when Hannah Hill was found murdered, begins talking about the department's handling of the case. Right now, he's detailing procedures.

10:07 a.m.: Finnicum is dismissed from the witness stand.

10 a.m.: Finnicum details seeing Hannah Hill's car parked on Caine Road for days, continually noticing the unfamiliar vehicle, equipped with an Akron police ticket. He walked around it and remembers seeing the license plate with Hill's name on it.

9:50 a.m.: Doyle explains why he suffers from PTSD. "It's because a lot of bad things happened." He details specifics, including his brother and best friend being murdered, then his sister, another brother and father dying within a three year span.

Questioning of Doyle is over and the State calls their next witness, William Finnicum who lived on Caine Road where the body of Hannah Hill was found in her trunk.

9:45 a.m.: Doyle is being cross-examined by Ross's defense attorney who is grilling him about the specifics of the conversation that day and the specific wording Ross used in reference to "killing Hannah." They're making the point that the conversation happened 2-3 weeks before Hill went missing.

They're also asking Doyle if he takes prescription medication for anything. He admits to taking Valium as needed for PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

9:20 a.m.: Doyle says he contacted Akron police in Dec. 2011 when he heard Ross would be retried in the case.

"I knew there was gonna be a retrial and he got off," said Doyle. He was abruptly cut off by the judge and told he wasn't allowed to say that.

9:12 a.m.: Doyle says he met Ross through his place of employment, an automotive business. Doyle says he and Ross would bid on cars at auctions. Doyle is talking about purchasing a blue Thunderbird Super Coupe. After buying the car, Doyle says he and Ross began talking about "stuff." Ross supposedly said he was mad at Hannah Hill for getting him arrested on cocaine charges.

"That b***** narked me out," Doyle told jurors, quoting Ross that day in May 1999. "If I find out Hannah narked me

out, I'm gonna kill that b****."

9:04 a.m.: Ross, counsel and the judge have entered the courtroom. Judge Judy Hunter tells the day's first witness, Daniel Doyle, not to mention "narking on Mr. Ross", that Ross had been released from jail and not to refer to the fact Ross had been locked up. Doyle is also not allowed to mention any felony convictions Ross had for drug use.

8:50 a.m.: A former friend of Denny Ross is expected to take the stand and possibly provide a motive in the 1999 murder of Hannah Hill.

Daniel Scott Doyle is expected to discuss Ross's drug arrest shortly before Hill's disappearance and how he wanted to "get back" at the person who "set him up." That person was initially thought to be Hannah Hill.


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 visit our special section dedicated to the retrial, http:// 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.

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