Ed Meyer

The Ohio Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of former Akron police Capt. Douglas Prade for a new trial in the 1997 slaying of his ex-wife, but the case is far from over.

It now goes back to Summit County Common Pleas Court for Judge Christine Croce’s consideration. A court official said Croce will hold a status conference with attorneys from both sides within several weeks to determine what happens next.

Prade’s lead attorney, David B. Alden of Cleveland, said he expects a ruling from Croce.

“How she does that will be up to her,” he said.

There are several options, Alden said. Croce can ask for oral or written arguments, set a hearing in which the prosecution and defense would present evidence and testimony, or act alone in accepting or rejecting the defense’s motion for a new trial.

“Somebody’s going to lose, and the loser will appeal,” Alden said.

It means the case could drag on indefinitely.

“Hopefully, she’ll grant a new trial and we’ll just go to a new trial,” Alden said.

Prade, now 69, is under protective custody at Allen Correctional Institution in Lima.

It has been nearly 17½ years since his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade, was murdered inside her van in her office parking lot. It is indisputable that there was a struggle, she was shot six times and that her attacker bit her during the struggle.

Croce has described the events that followed as a virtual ping-pong match.

Prade was freed in January 2013 after new DNA test results excluded him from the bite-mark evidence, but that ruling by now-retired Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter was reversed in March 2014 by Akron’s 9th District Court of Appeals.

Croce, Hunter’s successor, then acted on the 9th District ruling and sent Prade back to prison last October.

The case has reached this point because Hunter’s findings of innocence also contained a conditional order for a new trial in the event her decision was overturned on appeal.

Ed Meyer can be reached at 330-996-3784 or at emeyer@thebeaconjournal.com.