A Summit County judge has granted former Akron Police Capt. Douglas Prade's request for new DNA tests of forensic evidence in the 1997 murder of his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade.
Acting on a May 4 order by the Ohio Supreme Court, Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter issued a 14-page written decision Thursday afternoon, saying she was granting the tests ''in the interest of justice.''
Douglas Prade was convicted of the slaying of his ex-wife in a 1998 Summit County jury trial that brought nationwide publicity to the case and the city.
Prade, 64, was sentenced to prison for 20 years to life for aggravated murder, multiple counts of wiretapping and possession of criminal tools.
He is behind bars at Madison Correctional Institution.
Margo Prade was shot six times behind the wheel of her van in her office parking lot on Wooster Avenue on the morning before Thanksgiving in 1997.
The issue addressed by the high court involved a bite mark apparently left by the killer on Dr. Prade's left arm — through her lab coat and blouse — as she was trying to defend herself moments before the shooting.
At the time of the 1998 trial, only Dr. Prade's DNA profile was identified in the bite-mark evidence. Bleeding on the lab coat had overwhelmed any traces of DNA the perpetrator might have embedded in the bite, according to defense arguments before the high court last December.
In ordering the new tests, Hunter wrote in her decision that ''several pieces of biological material taken from the crime scene and victim remain available for further DNA tests.''
Hunter identified the evidence as six swatches of material from the arm of Dr. Prade's lab coat, buttons from her lab coat, four cheek swabs, two swabs of the bite mark from the victim and Dr. Prade's fingernail clippings.
''In this case,'' Hunter wrote, ''the best possible source of DNA evidence to show the killer's identity was DNA from the bite mark on Dr. Prade's lab coat.''
In an interview with the Beacon Journal last year, before the Ohio Supreme Court ruling sent the case back to Summit County to decide the issue, Prade maintained his innocence.
Prade said he knows his DNA will not be found in the bite mark, or in any other evidence, because he was not the killer.
He has always maintained his innocence.