Former Akron Police Capt. Doug Prade plans to spend the Christmas holidays with family members in Akron as he awaits an appellate ruling on a prosecution motion seeking to reverse a judge’s decision declaring him innocent in the 1997 slaying of his ex-wife.
Prade, 67, has been free for 11 months after serving nearly 15 years of a life sentence for the crime, but his case is under review in Akron’s 9th District Court of Appeals.
Oral arguments on the appeal by the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office were held Aug. 1.
Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter, now retired, issued the stunning exoneration order Jan. 29 following four days of testimony on DNA technology.
Hunter found that new DNA tests excluded Prade as the contributor to a central piece of crime-scene evidence: a bite-mark impression on a small section of fabric from the lab coat of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade.
Doug Prade’s sister, Caralynn Prade, a legal secretary at a Texas law firm, said her brother is spending Christmas here in Akron with his daughters, Sahara and Kenya, at the west side home of his younger sister, Yvonne Prade.
Caralynn Prade said the family is “prayerful” that the 9th District will uphold Hunter’s order.
“We’re hoping that everybody takes into account what happened [in the case],” Caralynn Prade said in a telephone interview from her office in Houston.
“We dread what happened to Margo. We dread that, because we all loved her, too. But we know that it wasn’t Douglas,” she said, “and we’re hoping that they start searching for who really did it.”
She said her brother “isn’t bitter or anything. I know I would be, but he’s not. He wants to move on with his life and spend time in the lives of his children and grandchildren.”
He has been involved in fundraising projects and speaking engagements for the Ohio Innocence Project since being freed, Caralynn Prade said.
Veronica Sadler of Akron, Margo Prade’s big sister, contacted the Beacon Journal last Wednesday asking whether there was any indication of when the appeals court will rule.
She said months of waiting, along with the entire ordeal of her sister’s death, has been hard on her side of the family.
“The crazy thing about it,” she said, “is that I still care for Douglas. He’s part of my family. I just want him to tell the danged truth.
“All he has to do is tell the truth. Then we can deal with it as a family as we’ve always done.”
Cleveland attorney David Alden, Doug Prade’s lead attorney at the DNA hearings in Hunter’s court and at the 9th District arguments last summer, said easy cases in the appellate court often are resolved within two months.
“We’re at almost five months in this case, so they obviously are thinking about it,” Alden said.
The case docket in the appeal shows just how seriously the judges are weighing the evidence. In late August, the court requested the entire transcript of proceedings from Doug Prade’s three-week-long trial in 1998.
And so the wait will continue.
“They are judges,” Alden said, “and judges rule when judges rule.”
Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at email@example.com.