Friday, November 6, 2015

Bulletin: Doug Prade: Ohio: Prosecution says Dr. Margo Prade’s lab coat could have been contaminated over the years: Reporter Ed Meyer; Beacon Journal;

"Prosecutors remain firm in attempting to show what they say happened to the lab coat worn by Dr. Margo Prade on the morning of her 1997 murder. It could hold the most believable theory, they contend, in unraveling the notorious crime. The underside of the coat’s upper-left sleeve, both sides agree, had a bite-mark impression left by the killer during a struggle moments before Dr. Prade was shot at close range. During the second day of court hearing Thursday in Douglas Prade’s argument that a new trial is warranted in his ex-wife’s slaying, Summit County assistant prosecutor Brad Gessner said the coat has been on “a journey” for many years. Instead of relying on complicated DNA testimony, Gessner told Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce a story about what happened to the lab coat. Since the day of the shooting on the morning before Thanksgiving, he said, the coat has taken on what he called “a life of its own.” His story formed the basis of the government’s contention that the latest DNA tests of the bite mark are “meaningless,” even though the 2012 test results excluded the former Akron police captain as the contributor. Gessner laid out a trail of where the blood-stained lab coat has been and how it could have been contaminated by “stray sources” of male DNA......... After Prade went to prison, 13 years passed before small DNA samples from the bite mark were tested against in 2011 and 2012 by scientists from Ohio’s DNA Diagnostics Center, known as DDC, and by investigators from the state’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation. It was the 2012 DDC testing — definitively excluding Prade’s DNA from the bite mark — that now-retired Judge Judy Hunter cited to exonerate Prade and free him after he had spent nearly 15 years behind bars. Hunter’s findings, however, were reversed on appeal — a decision that sent Prade back to prison, where he turned 69 years old in March. Much of Gessner’s questioning of witnesses Thursday was directed at why the state believes that no firm conclusion can by drawn by the fact that Prade’s DNA wasn’t found in the bite mark. It is not known to this day, he argued, who left the DNA markers there. The male DNA profiles could have come from “coughing, breathing or some form of touching” by anyone who handled the lab coat or the bite-mark swatch, he contended. The defense’s second and last witness, Dr. Julie A. Heinig, an assistant DDC lab director, conceded as much when Gessner asked her about it. Yes, it’s possible,” Heinig said. Croce informed both sides after the hearing concluded that they would have four weeks to file written briefs as their closing arguments. Her decision on the new trial is likely to come weeks later in the form of a written order."