- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - A judge said Thursday that said she will consider expert testimony and prior rulings before possibly deciding whether a former Akron police captain will get a new trial in the 1997 slaying of his ex-wife.

During a brief hearing, Summit County Common Pleas Judge Christine Croce described the case of 68-year-old Douglas Prade as “legal pingpong” because of how it has bounced between various courts.

Croce said she planned to eventually issue a written ruling and added that she has three options. She can give or deny Prade a new trial or hold another round of hearings on the evidence that led to his brief exoneration and more than a year of freedom.

Prade spent nearly 15 years in prison before being freed in January 2013 by Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter, who has since retired. Hunter exonerated him after advanced DNA technology showed that the male DNA found on a bite mark on the coat of Dr. Margo Prade did not belong to her ex-husband.

The 9th District Court of Appeals reinstated Prade’s conviction in March, and the Ohio Supreme Court upheld that decision in July. At the request of prosecutors, Croce then sent Prade to county jail.

Prade was convicted in 1998 of killing his ex-wife in her van outside her Akron medical office. A judge sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 26 years.

The case has caromed between the various courts since Hunter’s exoneration order in 2013. Her ruling contained an additional caveat that is the subject of this latest round of legal arguments. Hunter said if Prade’s exoneration was overturned, then he should receive a new trial.

The 9th District ruled last week that Hunter’s new trial order was invalid.

Prade attorney David Alden said Thursday that Ohio law allows for conditional orders like Hunter’s and that a new appeal would be sent to the Ohio Supreme Court. Prade’s defense team includes the Ohio Innocence Project, which works to free people using DNA evidence.

Croce on Thursday ordered Prade moved from county jail back to state prison.

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