Judge overturns Douglas Prade's murder conviction - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Former Police Captain freed after murder conviction overturned

Douglas Prade Douglas Prade

After spending nearly 15 years in prison, a former Akron Police Captain is now a free man.

"Releasing him from prison was a complete surprise to us," said Brad Gessner, Summit County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney.

Douglas Prade was released from the Madison Correctional Institution Tuesday, around 4:30 p.m.

This after the court overturned his conviction and a judge ruled Prade is innocent of aggravated murder.

Prade was convicted in the 1997 murder of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade. She was killed the day before Thanksgiving in 1997.

Tests indicate crime scene DNA did not come from Douglas Prade. A jury convicted him in 1998.

"Fifteen years ago that area was tested and there was no saliva there," said Gessner. "Our experts have said 15 years ago the isolated sections show nothing. How is it the parts that were sitting out, the parts that were touched by multiple people are relevant."

Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh announced that her office will be appealing Judge Judy Hunter's ruling exonerating Prade of the murder.

"This is a gross misapplication of the law, and we will be appealing Prade's exoneration. The defendant had to present new evidence so convincing that no juror would have found him guilty, and he failed to do so," said Prosecutor Walsh. "The DNA evidence presented by the Ohio Innocence Project on behalf of Prade is contaminated and unreliable. It does not prove innocence."

Dr. Margo Prade was found shot to death in her minivan outside her medical practice in November 1997.

Douglas Prade was convicted of her murder, along with wiretapping charges, and sentenced to life in prison.

The Ohio Innocence Project took up Prade's claim of innocence and petitioned the Court for his release or at least a new trial.

They based their motion on additional DNA testing that they say excludes Prade as a contributor to the partial male DNA profiles present in the area where Dr. Margo Prade was bitten. 

DNA experts from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, however, interpret the test results as insufficient and unreliable and most likely proof of contamination or mistakes.

"We are disappointed in Judge Hunter's opinion exonerating Doug Prade," said Akron Police Department Chief James Nice. "All of the evidence clearly points to Prade as Dr. Margo Prade's killer. He was proven guilty in front of a jury using a substantial amount of other evidence."

"Senior prosecutors in my office, none of whom were involved in the original prosecution against Douglas Prade, have reviewed this case and agree with the jury's interpretation of the facts and evidence," said Prosecutor Walsh. "All of the evidence points to Prade as the person who murdered Dr. Margo Prade. He was a serial stalker. He tapped her phones and recorded more than 400 of her personal calls. He had verbally abused and threatened her. And we know Margo was afraid of him. Additionally, we have Prade's handwritten tally of the bills he owed subtracted from the life insurance he'd get if Margo died, and we have two eyewitnesses who place Prade at the murder scene. We have not seen any credible evidence that suggests innocence, and we are taking all available actions to keep a dangerous killer off the streets."

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