(Story originally published Sept. 15, 1998)
An Akron dentist asked to determine who bit Dr. Margo Prade on the arm shortly before she was killed Nov. 26 said yesterday he tried to rule out former Akron police Capt. Douglas Prade, but could not.
“When I first started, I spent more time trying to exclude him (Douglas Prade) than include him” as a possible suspect, Thomas Marshall testified yesterday in the seventh day of Douglas Prade’s murder trial.
“It is the procedure I went through. I did not go through it to get a match but to exclude him. But I just couldn’t exclude him,” Marshall said.
Prade, 52, is charged with aggravated murder, six counts of wiretapping and one of possession of criminal tools in his ex-wife’s death. He has pleaded innocent to the charges.
Margo Prade, 41, was found shot to death about 10:30 a.m. Nov. 26 inside her van in the parking lot behind her office on Wooster Avenue. Police place the time of death at around 9:10 a.m.
After numerous tests that compared a mold of Douglas Prade’s teeth with the teeth marks on Margo Prade’s arm, Marshall said, “Every mark lined up with every” one of Douglas Prade’s lower front teeth.
Marshall, a retired Akron dentist who now is the dental consultant for the Summit County medical examiner, said extensive tests led to one result.
“My conclusion is the mark found on Margo Prade was made by Capt. Prade,” he told jurors.
Marshall also said the bite on Margo Prade’s arm was made just before she was shot and killed because the indentations in the white lab coat she was wearing pooled up with blood after the shooting.
Marshall said he based his conclusions on a “reasonable scientific certainty.”
Earlier in the day, Lowell Levine, a doctor of forensic dentistry with the New York State Police in Albany, said a dental impression given by Douglas Prade was “consistent with” the bite on Margo Prade’s arm but not conclusive. He also ruled out dental impressions taken from five other people, including the victim, as possible sources of the bite.
A major difference in the testimony of the two dental experts, however, is that Levine said he believes it is possible for two or more people to have the same bite, while Marshall said he believes teeth marks are as unique as fingerprints.
Using dental molds and wax impressions, photographs and plastic overlays displayed for the jury, Marshall showed how each and every tooth mark on Margo Prade matched Douglas Prade’s teeth.
Photos that enhanced the bruises on Margo Prade’s arm were compared with irregularities of Douglas Prade’s teeth to show where the bruises were darkest and lightest matched points and depressions in Douglas Prade’s lower front teeth.
In other testimony yesterday, jurors were shown videotapes enhanced by the U.S. Secret Service in Washington, D.C., and based on security camera tapes from Rolling Acres Dodge next to Margo Prade’s Wooster Avenue medical office.
In the tapes, a light-colored car is seen arriving in the parking lot at the Professional Center West. The car parks for five minutes, but no one gets out.
When the car leaves the Professional Center lot, Margo Prade’s van arrives. The light-colored car follows the van into the lot and parks a short distance away.
A shadowy figure gets out of the light-colored car and walks to the van. The figure enters the van. A minute and a half later, the figure leaves the van and returns to the light-colored car, which leaves the lot. No one can be clearly identified from the tapes.
A computer-animated video made by the Med Art and Legal Graphics Co. of Akron showed the movement of the vehicles and of the shadowy figure.
Also yesterday, Robin Husk, a lube technician at Rolling Acres Dodge, took the witness stand to identify Douglas Prade as the man he saw Nov. 26 between 8 and 9 a.m. in the auto dealer’s side lot, closest to the parking lot where Margo Prade’s body was found.
Husk testified that he observed Douglas Prade as Husk was moving cars to be serviced.
“I seen him walking up towards me.”
Husk testified that he asked the man, “Can I help you with something?” and the man replied, “No, I’m going inside,” and walked toward the service desk.
Asked to describe the person he saw, Husk said the man was “a tall, black man with a mustache and glasses and was bald.”
Husk said even though he saw “all the police and paramedics” at the medical building later that morning, he didn’t really think anything about the casual encounter until that night when he was watching TV news with his fiancee.
“I said (to her) ‘I’ve seen this man (Douglas Prade) today,’ “ Husk said.
Husk, who didn’t share his information with police until 2 1/2 weeks ago, said he was reluctant to come forward because Douglas Prade was a police captain and he feared possible reprisal by Prade’s friends in the police department.
“I was afraid for my life,” Husk said.
Just before Husk entered the courtroom, Douglas Prade removed his glasses and left them off during Husk’s testimony.
Husk nonetheless pointed at Douglas Prade as the man he saw the morning of Nov. 26.
During a conference among attorneys and Common Pleas Judge Mary Spicer in her chambers, Husk -- who stayed in the witness chair -- was face to face with Douglas Prade for several minutes from a distance of less than 20 feet.
Testimony resumes this morning.
Beacon Journal staff writer Jewell Cardwell contributed to this report.