A Summit County judge on Tuesday ordered the release of former Akron police Capt. Douglas Prade. Prade has been in prison for nearly 15 years after being convicted of killing his wife in 1997. From Ohio Public Radio member station WKSU, Mark Urycki has more on a change of fortunes brought about by the University of Cincinnati’s Innocence Project.
Forty-one- year-old Dr. Margo Prade was found shot to death in her van outside her office in November 1997. DNA tests were considered inconclusive at the time, but police linked a bite mark on her arm to her former husband, police Capt. Douglas Prade.
No other physical evidence linked him to the crime. And in a hearing last year, Prade’s attorneys brought in experts to testify that new testing methods prove DNA found at the bite mark came from a male who was not Douglas Prade. Other experts cast doubt on the value of the bite mark evidence.
Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Judith Hunter has now concluded that Prade was innocent of aggravated murder and should be released.
The Summit County prosecutor immediately appealed. Chief Assistant Prosecutor Brad Gessner says the county’s experts found the DNA tests were inconclusive and there’s other evidence to consider.
Gessner:"There was bite mark evidence. There was also evidence that he had basically serial stalked his ex-wife. He was convicted of wire taping her. He had taped and recorded more than 400 of her phone calls, her personal phone calls. He had verbally abused her and threatened her. We know that she was afraid of him. There were two eye witnesses who placed him at the scene at the time."
If an appeals court agrees with prosecutors and rejects Douglas Prade’s release, Judge Hunter has already granted him a new trial.