LONDON, Ohio (AP) — A former Ohio police captain who spent nearly 15 years in prison in his ex-wife’s killing was released Tuesday hours after a judge ruled that DNA test results prove he’s innocent and no reasonable jury would find otherwise.
Doug Prade was released from the Madison Correctional Institution outside of Columbus just hours after an Akron judge found that the new test results were “clear and convincing.”
“This is what should have happened in 1998,” Prade told reporters near the prison shortly after his release. “I’m innocent. I should have been found innocent back then.”
The now 66-year-old Prade was convicted in 1998 of shooting his ex-wife to death outside the Akron office where she worked as a doctor on Nov. 26, 1997. There were no witnesses, no fingerprints, and no gun ever was found.
Prade’s conviction largely was based on a bite mark found on his ex-wife’s body. The new test results show that Prade couldn’t have left the mark.
“I’m just a jumble of emotions right now,” said Prade, who appeared both elated and in disbelief.
He said that he planned to eat anything that hadn’t been cooked in prison and spend time with his family, including six grandchildren he has never met. He’s still deciding where he’ll live and what he’ll do now that he’s free, but Prade said that he wants to work with the Ohio Innocence Project — the group that helped free him — on other cases of wrongfully convicted inmates.
“There are thousands of innocent men and women in prison and a lot of them don’t have the advantage of DNA to rely on,” Prade said. “Hopefully those ones that do have DNA now — something will happen.”
Prosecutors appealed Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter’s ruling and unsuccessfully fought Prade’s release from prison.
Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh said in a statement that Hunter’s findings were “a gross misapplication of the law.”
“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,” she said.
If a higher court agrees with prosecutors and overturns Hunter’s ruling, Prade would get a new trial.
The new DNA test was conducted on Margo Prade’s lab coat where her killer is believed to have bitten her.