Murder retrial of Denny Ross nears, more motions filed in court

AKRON, Ohio - In paperwork filed recently with Summit County Common Pleas Court, prosecutors in the Denny Ross case request testimony be allowed from a new witness and that jurors be able to see the area where Hannah Hill was murdered almost 13 years ago to the day.

Defense lawyers for Ross had their own request: that the judge excuse herself from the case. It was a request that was denied.

Judge Judy Hunter also said a new witness identified as "N.E." will be able to explain what she saw at Denny Ross's apartment the night of May 26, 1999 while police were serving a search warrant. Prosecutors said N.E. heard noises, saw several flashlights outside and saw Ross throw a bag of clothes out of his apartment window, clothes that belonged to Hannah Hill.

The State also said should Ross and his defense team try to discredit N.E.'s testimony and question why she didn't come forward sooner, "the State will attempt to admit other acts of testimony in rebuttal...particularly that she had been raped by Mr. Ross earlier that evening" and feared retaliation from the Ross family.

Judge Hunter also gave the green light for jurors to view the outside of Ross's former apartment on Canton and Cain roads, plus the intersection of Canton Road and Leland Avenue, where joggers saw Ross and another person the morning of May 20, 1999.

Prosecutors said the "limited jury view" would give jurors an accurate perception of the area prior to the trial. Ross has until June 26 to decide whether or not he wants to attend the jury view.

A status conference has been set for May 15, at which time prosecutors have to submit a shortened witness list.

Ross's retrial is slated to begin July 16.

Denny Ross was first tried for the rape and murder of Hannah Hill in October 2000. The trial ended in a mistrial after jurors signed papers acquitting Ross of the crimes.

The 18-year-old Hill left her parents house in Kenmore on May 20, 1999 to meet Ross and never returned. About a week later, police found Hill's body in the trunk of her car. She was just days away from her 19th birthday.

After 10 years of appeals, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ross must stand trial again on the same charges. The remaining court delays stem from counsel waiting on additional DNA sampling tests of hair fragments.

Ross, 32, is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the rape and attempted murder of another Akron woman. He was out on bond in 2004 during appeals in the Hill case when he committed the crime.

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Denny Ross murder case