© 2022 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ohio Supreme Court Presses Prosecutor on Reasons to Withold Complete DNA Report

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French
Ohio Supreme Court

The Ohio Supreme Court heard arguments today over whether a northeast Ohio man is entitled to the full report on DNA testing and other evidence. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more on the arguments in a death-penalty case that has stretched on for nearly three decades.

Tyrone Noling was convicted of killing an elderly Portage County couple in 1990. But since his conviction, he’s been pushing for the DNA evidence he maintains would clear him and implicate someone else. Last year, he won access to the state’s DNA report on a cigarette butt found at the scene. But now the Supreme Court is trying to define just what makes up a “report.”

Victor Vigluicci
Credit Ohio Supreme Court
Ohio Supreme Court
Vigluicci say the DNA questions could be used to further delay Noling's execution.

Portage County Prosecutor Vic Vigluicci says the one-page summary from the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation is all Noling is entitled to. Supreme Court Justice Judith French pressed him.

FRENCH: 'What’s the harm in giving all of the results of everything that was produced at BCI? What’s the harm in that?

VIGLUICCI: "Because we’re not here to question the methodology and the process of the BCI lab. I’m sure that I could find a DNA lab somewhere in the country that will criticize what BCI did. We will be here forever, your honor.” 

But Noling’s attorney, Brian Howe, says courts throughout the state have regularly supplied complete BCI reports that include important DNA details – and that’s especially crucial in a death-penalty case.

A photo of Brian Howe, Noling's lawyer.
Brian Howe says transparency and specificity are especially crucial in death-penalty cases.

“The practice in the state -- and I believe the state admits this in its brief -- is to disclose the full results including electropherograms. And it has not resulted in endless delay or appeal or chaos.”

During his arguments, Howe also pointed to other cases in which DNA evidence that the state originally said was too degraded to be tested ended up exonerating people who had been convicted. 

Click here for more on the arguments in the Tyrone Noling case.

M.L. Schultze is a freelance journalist. She spent 25 years at The Repository in Canton where she was managing editor for nearly a decade, then served as WKSU's news director and digital editor until her retirement.