Ohio court grants stay for ex-cop who was freed


AKRON, Ohio (AP) — Ohio's highest court is temporarily blocking a ruling that says a former police captain should have been kept in prison even after his conviction in his ex-wife's killing was overturned.

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FILE- In this Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 file photo, Doug Prade, a former Ohio police captain who has spent nearly 15 years in prison for his ex-wife's killing, answers questions from the media after being released from the Madison Correctional Institution in London, Ohio. An appeals court in Ohio says a judge was wrong to release Prade. The ruling released Wednesday, March 19, 2014, comes a little more than a year after Prade was freed from prison based on new testing of a bite mark. A judge in Akron ruled in January 2013 that new DNA test results proved Prade didn't kill his former wife. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

The state Supreme Court granted the request for a stay Thursday, the same day former Akron officer Douglas Prade (PRAYD') was jailed under orders from a county judge. It wasn't immediately clear whether the 67-year-old Prade would be released.

Prade served nearly 15 years and was freed in 2013 when a judge decided new DNA testing of a bite mark proved he didn't kill his ex-wife. But an appeals court concluded Wednesday that the test didn't give a clear answer.

Prade's attorneys have fought to keep him free while he appeals. Prosecutors want him returned to prison.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A former police captain released after nearly 15 years in prison for his ex-wife's slaying landed back behind bars Thursday after an appeals court ruled a judge was wrong to free him based on bite-mark DNA testing.

Attorneys for former Akron officer Douglas Prade had sought to keep him free while he appeals to the Ohio Supreme Court, but Summit County Judge Christine Croce ordered him taken into custody. Prade didn't speak during the hearing and was taken away in handcuffs.

"We were hoping Judge Croce would wait until the Supreme Court made its ruling, but her hands were tied," attorney Lisa Gates said.

She said they are disappointed Prade is back in custody but are pleased the judge granted a request that he be held at the county jail. Prosecutors had wanted him returned to state prison.

Prade was freed in January 2013 when now-retired Judge Judy Hunter decided there was convincing evidence of his innocence based on DNA tests. The tests of the bite mark on Dr. Margo Prade's lab coat showed the DNA did not match that of her former husband.

But Ohio's 9th District Court of Appeals said Wednesday that the DNA testing raised more questions than answers and that Prade's original conviction was based on overwhelming circumstantial evidence.

"Without a doubt, Prade was excluded as a contributor of the DNA that was found in the bite mark section of Margo's lab coat," the ruling said. "The DNA testing, however, produced exceedingly odd results." Each sample produced completely different results, the appeals court said.

"While it is indisputable that there was only one killer, at least two partial male profiles were uncovered within the bite mark," the ruling said.

Prade, who maintains his innocence, has asked the Supreme Court to block the appeals court judgment, citing his intended appeal and an earlier order granting him a new trial, which his attorneys say "provides a strong basis for allowing Mr. Prade to remain released."

Prade had been living in Akron, bought a home and has been getting to know his grandchildren, his attorneys said in the filing as they explained why they don't consider him likely to flee.

Prosecutors indicated they'll fight Prade's planned Supreme Court appeal.

"In order to be exonerated, Prade and his attorneys needed to show clear and convincing evidence of his innocence — not simply create doubt," current county Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh had said. "They failed."

The county prosecutor during Prade's original case was Maureen O'Connor, who is now the Supreme Court's chief justice.

Prade was convicted in 1998 of shooting his 41-year-old ex-wife, a family practitioner, in her van outside her Akron office. There were no witnesses and no fingerprints, and no gun was found after the November 1997 shooting.

The test of the lab coat fabric showed it contained multiple DNA profiles. None matched Douglas Prade's DNA.

An assistant prosecutor told the appeals court in August that the findings showed a possibility that the bite mark evidence was contaminated.

"The only absolute conclusion that can be drawn from the DNA results, however, is that their true meaning will never be known," the 71-page appeals court ruling said.

Last month, Prade filed a federal lawsuit against current and former police officers, claiming he was framed.

A bond hearing for Prade is scheduled April 4.


Associated Press writers Kantele Franko and Andrew Welsh-Huggins in Columbus contributed to this report.