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Courts and Crime

Ohio's Supreme Court will take another look at DNA and death row
Tyrone Noling's case and changes in state law get a review this week

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:

The Ohio Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrow in a case in which DNA evidence that cleared a man has actually helped keep him on death row. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on a change in Ohio law – and whether it applies to the case of Tyrone Noling.

SCHULTZE: The Supreme Court review of Noling's case

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In April 1990, someone ransacked the southern Portage County home of Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig and shot the elderly couple to a death. Six years later, a jury decided that someone was Tyrone Noling, and he’s been on death row since.

Noling and the Ohio Innocence Project have repeatedly noted that no physical evidence linked Noling to the crime – no fingerprints, weapons or DNA.

The DNA argument is what the Ohio Supreme Court is considering.

Investigators had found a cigarette butt in the Hartig’s drivewayand tested it in 1993. The results excluded Noling and a co-defendant.

Fifteen years later, Noling pushed for retesting after discovering that investigators found the saliva was a possible match with another man, who had lived nearby was executed in 2009 in a separate case.

But the law back then said if DNA had been definitively tested once, a judge could not order a retest. So even though the DNA did not implicate Noling, it allowed no testing with new technology.

Ohio changed that law in 2010. It now allows new tests if there are advances in DNA science and if there’s a strong chance it will identify the true culprit.

Noling tried again.

But a judge rejected Noling’s appeal anew – citing another provision of the law saying once a motion for new testing is denied, a judge cannot consider new motions seeking retesting.  

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