Beacon Journal staff report
The state has failed in its appeal to prevent a new trial for Dewey Amos Jones III, the Akron man whose 1995 murder conviction is being challenged by the Ohio Innocence Project.
The Akron-based 9th District Court of Appeals this week denied an appeal by the office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. The state was appealing a July 2012 ruling by Summit County Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands, who granted Jones a new trial.
Rowlands based her decision on the absence of Jones’ DNA and that of another police suspect, which “calls into question the state’s entire theory of the case.”
Jones, now 51, was convicted of the 1993 murder and robbery of 71-year-old Neal Rankin.
Results of new DNA tests of crime-scene evidence, which were conducted by the Cincinnati branch of the DNA Diagnostics Center, found an unknown sample of male blood on a piece of nylon rope used to tie Rankin’s wrists, a knife used to cut the rope and a section of Rankin’s shirt sleeves.
DeWine’s office is considering another appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court. State attorneys have 30 days to decide. Otherwise, Jones’ case could be retried. Jones has always maintained his innocence while serving a life sentence for aggravated murder and aggravated robbery.
“DNA test results are just one piece of evidence that demonstrates Dewey Jones’ innocence,” said Carrie Wood, an attorney with the Innocence Project. “Whether DNA test results produce an exoneration or a new trial, [the appellate court’s] decision affirms the importance of DNA testing’s role in demonstrating innocence.”