AKRON, Ohio — A former Akron police captain will spend the next 30 days in jail while he awaits a decision about whether he should receive a new trial in the 1998 slaying of his ex-wife, a judge ruled Friday.
Douglas Prade, 68, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs after the ruling by Summit County Judge Christine Croce. Prade will be transferred to a state prison if the 9th District Court of Appeals does not rule whether he should get a new trial within that 30-day period, Croce said.
The (Akron) Beacon Journal reported that Croce told Prade: "You are now again convicted and sentenced to spend your natural life in prison."
Prade spent nearly 15 years in prison in the shooting death of Dr. Margo Prade, who was killed in her van outside her Akron medical office. Prade was sentenced to life in prison with a chance for parole in 26 years.
A now-retired judge exonerated Prade in January 2013 after DNA tests showed that a bite mark on Dr. Prade's lab coat did not come from her ex-husband. She also made what a court official described as a "conditional order" that if her ruling exonerating Prade was overturned that he should receive a new trial.
The appellate court overturned Judge Judy Hunter's decision to free Prade in March. The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the 9th District ruling. County prosecutors have filed a motion with the appellate court arguing that Hunter's conditional order is invalid and Prade should not receive a new trial.
Prade's defense has been bolstered by legal help from the Ohio Innocence Project, which along with similar groups nationwide, have become renowned for freeing wrongfully convicted individuals through the use of DNA testing and the discovery of new evidence. Prade's Cincinnati-based attorney, Brian Howe, could not be reached after Croce's decision on Friday. He told the Beacon Journal afterward that Prade remains "resolute" that he will get a new trial and will eventually be freed.
Margo Prade's family celebrated after the ruling.
"It's been a roller coaster ride that I wouldn't want anybody to go through," Margo Prade's nephew, Anthony Fowler, told the newspaper.