Phil Trexler

Attorneys for Denny Ross have dropped their request for additional DNA testing, clearing the way for the 1999 murder case to be tried in March.


Both sides met Tuesday in Summit County Common Pleas Court, spending about two hours behind closed doors with Judge Judy Hunter.


Ross was not present during the pretrial hearing. He is accused in the 1999 slaying of Hannah Hill, 18, of Akron. His original trial in 2000 was aborted amid alleged juror misconduct. A series of appeals followed.


In a motion filed Monday, Ross’ defense attorneys said they have “reassessed” their previous demands for sophisticated DNA testing and fingerprint analysis. They asked that the March 5 trial date stand and that prosecutors be barred from seeking more delays.


Ross is charged with two counts of murder, felonious assault, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.


Hunter is expected to allow the March 5 date to stand. Previously, she ordered prosecutors to release evidence to an independent lab for mitochondrial DNA testing. Prosecutors have said the testing could delay the trial for four months or more.


Ross, now 32, has maintained his innocence. At his original trial, he did not testify. In fact, his attorneys rested without calling a single witness on their belief that the state failed to prove its case.


However, a mistrial was declared after the jury had signed verdict forms acquitting him of aggravated murder, murder and rape. A lengthy series of appeals by both sides ended in December 2010, when the Ohio Supreme Court ruled Ross must stand trial again.


Defense lawyers have argued Ross was the victim of a ‘‘rush to judgment’’ by Akron police detectives bent on saving the department’s reputation by making a swift arrest after ignoring days of tips that Hill’s car — where her body was found in the trunk — was parked on Caine Road in the Ellet area of Akron.


Prosecutors alleged that Hill went to Ross’ Canton Road apartment and died there during a sexual assault and struggle. She was beaten and strangled, and Ross’ semen was found on her underwear.


The rest of her clothing was found in a plastic bag outside the window of Ross’ apartment. Police testified that Ross dropped the bag outside when they came to search his home.


Ross is serving a 25-year prison sentence for the 2004 attempted murder and rape of another Akron woman while he was free on bond during appeals in the Hill case.


Phil Trexler can be reached at 330-996-3717 or ptrexler@thebeaconjournal.com.