CINCINNATI — A former police captain who spent nearly 15 years in prison in his former wife’s killing was exonerated Tuesday by a judge who said new DNA tests proved his innocence and that no reasonable jury that saw the results would have convicted him.
Doug Prade was set free because the new DNA results are “clear and convincing,” said Judge Judy Hunter.
Prade’s lawyer, Carrie Wood, said that when she called Prade to give him the news, he broke down in tears and could not speak for a while.
“This was a very humble and thankful Doug,” said Wood, who works for the Cincinnati-based Ohio Innocence Project and has been working for years to free Prade.
If a higher court overturns Hunter’s ruling, Prade would get a new trial.
A prominent doctor, Margo Prade, 41,was found slumped in her minivan on Nov. 26, 1997. She was shot six times.
The only evidence was a bite mark on her arm.
A forensic dentist testified for the prosecution that he was sure Doug Prade was responsible, while a defense expert said that the defendant’s teeth could not have left it. A third expert said there was no way to be certain.
Jurors found Prade guilty, and the 30-year veteran of the Akron Police Department was sentenced to life.
In August, Prade hoped the results would be enough to free him.
“For them to find what I had known all that time was no surprise to me,” he said by phone from prison. “I guess it was an epiphany to everyone else — ‘Hey, this guy was telling the truth.’ ”
Since the trial, bite-mark comparisons have come under fire as sham science.