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Prade back to jail for ex wife murder

James W. Wade III | 7/25/2014, 9:27 a.m.
Douglas Prade was sent back to jail on Friday.
Douglas Prade is taken into custody at the Summit County Courthouse, Thursday, March 20, 2014, in Akron, Ohio. A judge ordered Prade to appear in court Thursday so she could decide whether he should be sent back to prison or remain free while he appeals. Prade could head back to prison after being exonerated in his ex-wife’s killing, he served 15 years. (AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Karen Schiely)

Douglas Prade, the former Akron police captain accused of killing his ex-wife Dr. Margo Prade in 1997, has been ordered to stay in jail until the Ninth District Court of Appeals in Akron decides whether or not his original trial judge's order for a new trial is acceptable, Summit County Judge Christine Croce ruled on Friday.

Over the span of 15 years, Prade has been fighting to prove his innocence and had been released for 18 months. Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court decided not to hear another appeal from Prade.

The 9th District Court of Appeals in Akron ruled that the judge was wrong to overturn Prade’s conviction in the 1997 murder of his ex-wife. Judge Croce ordered Prade to spend the next 30 days in the Summit County Jail in case the Ninth District makes their ruling within that time frame.

Brian Howe of the Ohio Innocence Project was fighting to keep Prade free. This order was put in place by the now-retired Summit County Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter who set Prade free in 2013.

Judge Hunter put in place that if an appeals court overturned her exoneration, then Prade should be granted a new trial. This is the argument that Howe argued in favor of Prade being granted a new trial.

Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Greg Peacock successfully argued that because the Supreme Court denied the appeal by a 4 to 3 vote, he should not get a new trial and should stay confined.

Lisa Gates, Prade’s attorney, said the Akron resident is disappointed. “Judge [Judy] Hunter got it exactly right when she overturned Doug’s conviction,” said Gates of the Jones Day law firm in Cleveland. “She is the one who heard all the witnesses and reviewed the new evidence. We think the appellate decision was wrong and the original decision should never have been reversed.”

Margo and Douglas divorced seven months before her death, which many feel was his motive to kill her. Through the court system he was convicted of aggravated murder, in part because of expert testimony by a forensic dentist matching him with the bite mark.

Howe spoke on behalf of Douglas and let them know last week that the DNA analysis shows the murderer bit Margo, and DNA from that bite belongs to another man, not Prade.

Lawyers from the Ohio Innocence Project, which represented Prade for nearly a decade, issued a statement saying it will continue to fight to prove his innocence. “He is now entitled to a new trial and we are confident he will be vindicated,” its statement said.

Gates said her office is moving forward with plans for a new trial and looks forward to presenting new evidence to a jury. She will also ask Judge Croce to allow Prade to remain free on bond pending the new trial.

After years of telling everyone he was innocent, Prade won with DNA testing of the lab coat, and specifically the bite mark. Testing results showed that Prade’s DNA didn’t match the traces of saliva left on the coat.

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