Nov. 26, 1997

— A day before Thanksgiving

Dr. Margo S. Prade, 41, was shot to death in the parking lot of her Wooster Avenue office building.

• 6:30 to 8 a.m.: Prade awakens in her home on Mull Avenue in West Akron. Gets her two daughters, Sahara, 9, and Kenya, 12, ready for school. In her green 1996 Dodge Caravan, Prade takes Kenya to Our Lady of the Elms Elementary School in West Akron. Prade’s friend and neighbor Conni Shaeffer takes her daughter and Sahara to Akron’s Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts.

• 8 a.m.: Prade arrives at Akron General Medical Center to conduct first meetings of day with staff and patients.

• 8:50 a.m.: From her car phone, Prade calls Joyce Foster, her office manager at Professional Center West, 1557 Wooster Ave., and tells Foster she is on the way.

• 9 a.m.: Apparently still in her van, Prade calls her mother, Lillie Hendricks. They discuss shopping for Thanksgiving dinner planned at Prade’s home the next day.

• 9:05 a.m.: As Foster leaves Wooster Avenue office to make bank deposit, she notices green Dodge Caravan in parking lot behind office building, but does not see Prade.

• 9:10 a.m.: Police document fixes time of shooting at 9:10.

• 10:25 to 10:35 a.m.: Lori Collins, Prade’s medical assistant, leaves office on her break. While smoking a cigarette, Collins walks outside building to get can of Pepsi from her station wagon in parking lot. After noticing Prade’s van in lot, Collins walks to driver’s side window, looks inside and sees doctor slumped to her right, with her head resting on her right arm, her right hand dangling over passenger seat, and blood covering her white hospital coat.

• 10:36 a.m.: Collins runs back to office, places emergency 911 call. Call takes one minute, 58 seconds.

• 10:39 a.m.: Emergency call relayed by communications center to police headquarters.

• 10:40 a.m.: Med 6 unit from Akron Fire Department is first vehicle to arrive on scene. Paramedics begin emergency procedures.

• 10:45 to 11:15 a.m.: First police units arrive. Crime scene is sealed off. Patrol officers and detectives begin interviews with office staff and patients inside building. Coroner’s official begins preliminary examination of Prade’s body.

• 4 p.m.: Akron Police Chief Edward Irvine issues news release, stating that Dr. Prade was accosted as she arrived at her office for the day, that she suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene by Summit County Medical Examiner Marvin Platt.

Feb. 23, 1998

Akron Police Capt. Douglas Prade is arrested and charged with his ex-wife’s murder.

March 11, 1998

Prade retires from the Akron Police Department.

Aug. 24, 1998

Jury selection begins in Prade trial.

Sept. 23, 1998

Prade is found guilty of aggravated murder. He faces the jurors and tells them: “You convicted the wrong man.” Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Spicer sentences him to life in prison.

June 1, 1999

Prade’s conviction is appealed to the Ohio 9th District Court of Appeals. His lawyers contend he didn’t get a fair trial.

Oct. 13, 1999

Oral arguments presented to the appeals judges.

Aug. 23, 2000

Appeals judges uphold Prade’s conviction.

Aug. 31, 2009

Barry Scheck’s Innocence Network in New York files defense brief for Prade, explaining need for new DNA tests of key evidence.

Dec. 16, 2009

David Booth Alden, a leading trial lawyer for the heavyweight Cleveland firm Jones Day, asks the Ohio Supreme Court for new state-funded DNA tests that could conclusively prove Douglas Prade’s innocence.

May 4, 2010

The Ohio Supreme Court sends the case back to Summit County to determine whether new DNA testing of forensic evidence from his 1998 murder trial could exclude him as the killer. The 4-2 decision does not grant Prade’s request for new state-funded DNA tests.

Aug. 3, 2010

Gov. Ted Strickland and Attorney General Richard Cordray ask the Summit County prosecutor to release evidence in the case.

Aug. 6, 2010

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh tells state officials that she won’t consider releasing DNA evidence for retesting in the Prade murder case.

Sept. 1, 2010

Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter hears two hours of arguments by the defense and prosecution about whether new tests — using DNA technology not in existence at the time of Prade’s 1998 conviction — should be granted.

Sept. 23, 2010

Hunter grants Prade’s request for new DNA tests of forensic evidence in the 1997 murder of his ex-wife.

Aug. 2, 2012

Attorneys representing Prade say new genetic tests exclude him as the male source of DNA found on the lab coat of his ex-wife. They argue he should be released from prison with the conviction cleared off his record — or at least receive a new trial. The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, however, argues in a court filing the new evidence is “meaningless.” Jones Day and the Ohio Innocence Project have donated their time to provide Prade with attorneys.

Oct. 22, 2012

Forensic expert Dr. Rick W. Staub testifies for nearly two hours before Hunter that sophisticated DNA testing of several sections of bite mark evidence from Margo Prade’s bloodstained lab coat — long ago established as vital in the identification of the killer — excludes Douglas Prade as the contributor.

Oct. 26, 2012

Lawyers for Douglas Prade call on a second source to back up an earlier analysis that the former Akron police captain was excluded as the contributor of bite-mark evidence in the 1997 slaying of his ex-wife. On the second day of court hearings, forensic scientist Julie Heinig testifies for more than three hours, saying her analysis of the doctor’s lab coat excludes the former police commander.

Oct. 31, 2012

Under cross examination by Prade’s lead defense counsel on the fourth and final day of hearings, state witness Franklin D. Wright states that bite-mark analysis classified as “consistent” with Douglas Prade at his 1998 murder trial now would be considered “inconclusive” under the latest national forensic standards.

Jan. 29, 2013

Citing DNA test results that excluded Prade as a suspect from a bite-mark impression found on the lab coat of his former wife, Hunter rules that no jury today would convict him of the slaying. Hunter orders Prade’s release from prison. Prosecutors say they will appeal.

Source: Beacon Journal archives