Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Go ahead .. test Prade's DNA .. but that's not the test that needs done here.

Doug Prade's lawyers are hoping that an appeals court will give him new life from a cold jail cell. He wants to have his DNA tested and then compared to evidence from the 1997 murder of his ex-wife, Margo. That's the killing for which he was convicted.

Governor Strickland is recommending free post-conviction DNA screenings for 30 inmates who are maintaining their innocence, and Prade, a former Akron Police Captain, is one of them.

I'm not sure what testing Prade's DNA could do considering jurors didn't convict him on DNA. He was found guilty because of a bite mark on Margo's arm that an expert matched up to Doug's teeth, which included his jaw-dropping upper dentures that flew out during testimony.

The only DNA evidence I recall was a test done on skin cells found under Margo's fingernails and Doug was excluded from that pool. Investigators told me that they'd never be able to determine whose DNA was there because Margo had so many patients.

Yet .. after his conviction .. Doug Prade told me that he believes that the real killer's DNA is in there.

If there's a DNA test to be done here, wouldn't it make more sense to do new tests on those skin cells rather than getting Doug's DNA code for the umpteenth time?

There are people in town -- definitely not the majority of people who followed this case -- who still believe Prade is innocent, but I think even they would agree that the facts of the case don't hold much hope for a new trial just by getting a new look at Doug's X's and Y's under a microscope.


Anonymous said...

What if someone else's DNA comes up on the lab coat on the spot where Prade supposedly bit her?

Eric Mansfield said...

That's my point. No reason to test Doug's DNA because it has no value here. What needs tested is any remaining evidence that either wasn't tested or could undergo new, more accurate testing .. and then, it only matters if a stranger's DNA can be matched somewhere .. such as we saw in the Clarence Elkins case. Elkins was only let go because he matched the real killer's DNA with the evidence.

Still .. as most believe Doug is the killer .. this may be a moot point.

Anonymous said...

But, if the bite spot doesn't contain Prade's DNA, we can infer that he didn't bite her as the prosecution claimed.
Prade's folks want to test the coat DNA against his DNA and then a state data base.
If there's not a bit, you must acquit!!!

Eric Mansfield said...

Prosecutors would disagree.

As I recall, there was so much blood that there was no way to get any usable DNA from the bite mark on the coat. It was the bite mark itself, and the missing upper bite mark -- explained by the ease to which Doug's upper teeth popped out -- that led to his conviction.

Just because Doug's DNA isn't in that bite mark, doesn't mean he didn't bite her. It's an issue that came up at his trial in 1998.

Again, I don't see the harm in Doug getting his wish to have his DNA typed again .. but I don't see how it could help him in the case. The evidence against him wasn't based on DNA. Unless a new test on the old evidence reveals a DNA sample that could somehow be matched to a new suspect (as in the Elkins case), there's not much room here to contend for a new trial.

Anonymous said...

Prade's current request is not to have his own DNA retested. It's to have the physical evidence from the crime scene - particularly the lab coat over what the State argued was the killer's bite mark - tested using more sophisticated techniques than were available in 1998 when the trial occurred.