New DNA evidence crucial in murder of Hannah Hill

Denny Ross faces 2nd trial for death of Akron teen

AKRON, Ohio - It's a case that shocked Summit County 12 years ago: the murder of a pretty and popular 18-year-old woman named Hannah Hill.

In 1999, Hill's body was found in the trunk of her car on Caine Road in Akron's Ellet neighborhood.

New DNA evidence will thrust the high-profile crime back into the spolight, beginning in June when a court hearing is scheduled for the suspect, Denny Ross. Ross, 32, is currently in prison serving 25 years for an unrelated rape.

Ross went on trial in 2000 for Hannah's killing, but a judge declared a mistrial after learning that the jurors had discussed a lie detector test-- evidence that was not presented during the trial.

It was later learned that the jurors had voted not guilty on murder counts, but the verdicts were never read in open court.

Ross' second trial is likely to take place in the fall. Special prosecutors from Cuyahoga County have been assigned to the case because the Summit County Prosecutor's office has a conflict of interest with the victim's family.

Matthew Meyer, one of the special prosecutors, said new DNA evidence against Ross will build a stronger case.

"Among the items that we're testing are Ms. Hill's fingernail clippings, additional tests on Ms. Hill's clothing and we're doing testing of the trunk liner where Ms Hill's body was found," Meyer said.

Meyer also believes the jury will hear evidence that was suppressed during Ross's first trial.

"Specifically, there was DNA from Mr. Ross on Miss Hill's clothing that the jury did not hear about," Meyer said.

The victim's brother, Justin Hill, said this time of year is very difficult. Hannah's body was found on May 26 and she was buried on Memorial Day, one day after what would have been her 19th birthday.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about my sister.  I miss her very much," Justin Hill said.

The day after police discovered Hannah's body, police found her clothing in a garbage bag outside of Ross' apartment.

"The evidence is clear that it's him. He did it. I have no doubt in my mind," Justin Hill said.

Over the years, a series of appeals from Ross' attorneys argued it would be double jeopardy for Ross to stand trial again.  But, last December the Ohio Supreme Court ruled a second trial could go forward.

In 2004, Ross was convicted of raping an Akron woman, a crime he committed while free on bond in the Hill case.

A June 14 court hearing before Judge Judy Hunter could set a new trial date for the Ross.

His attorney, Larry Whitney, said Ross maintains his innocence and is looking forward to putting on his defense.

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