AKRON, Ohio - New DNA tests that led to the release of a former police captain convicted in 1998 of killing his ex-wife were unreliable, and the man should be returned to prison, a prosecutor told an Ohio appeals court panel.
A Summit County judge ruled in January that DNA tests of a bite mark on Dr. Margo Prade's lab coat showed the DNA did not match that of her ex-husband, former Akron police Capt. Douglas Prade. The judge ruled that was convincing evidence of Prade's innocence and ordered him freed.
Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Richard Kasay told a panel of the Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals on Thursday that if the state had believed the new tests were reliable, "I wouldn't be here today," the Akron Beacon Journal ( http://bit.ly/1cuv01m ) reported.
Prade, now 67, was sentenced to life in prison with parole eligibility in 26 years in the 1997 murder of the 41-year-old doctor.
Neither side disputes that the doctor's killer bit her during a struggle shortly before she was shot to death inside her van at her office parking lot.
But Kasay disputed the findings of the Common Pleas Court judge who freed Prade. The latest test of the lab coat fabric showed it contained at least two and as many as five DNA profiles and none matched Douglas Prade's DNA. But Kasay said the findings show a possibility that the bite mark evidence was contaminated, perhaps as far back as Prade's jury trial.
Prade, who has maintained his innocence, attended the hearing with his sister and three retired Akron police officers. The former police captain did not address the court and declined to comment afterward.
Prade's attorney, David Alden, pointed to 1998 testimony from an FBI agent who said the killer's DNA most likely would be found on the coat bite mark. The coat was sent to the FBI right after the crime, Alden said.
The original tests showed the doctor's DNA on the coat, but the new tests based on improved technology found only that the DNA came from a male, Alden said.
"There's no question that they found male DNA, but that male DNA was not Doug Prade's DNA," he said.
Alden also said that not a single expert said the DNA could belong to Prade.
The appeals panel said it would rule later.