cropped-PHOTO.jpgCase update: September 30, 2015

On September 30, 2015, the Ohio Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction over Mr. Noling’s DNA appeal.

Please find below a statement from Mr. Noling’s attorney in response to the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling:

“We are grateful that the Ohio Supreme Court will hear Tyrone Noling’s case. Mr. Noling is an innocent man who has been on death row for almost 20 years. As the Ohio Supreme Court determined in accepting jurisdiction, Mr. Noling’s case is one of great public importance and involves a substantial constitutional question. The Ohio Supreme Court will resolve the constitutionality of the appeals process when individuals have been sentenced to death and their applications for post-conviction DNA testing are denied.”

“Ohio must do everything in its power to be sure it does not execute an innocent man. The gaps in Ohio’s appeals process must be fixed. Non-capital defendants who have had their requests for post-conviction DNA testing denied are allowed to appeal to the Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court. However, capital defendants who have had their applications for post-conviction DNA testing denied are only permitted to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court, which takes only a small number of cases per year. Giving individuals whose lives are at stake less court review is nonsensical as well as patently unconstitutional.”

“A complete appellate review is important as powerful evidence strongly supports Mr. Noling’s more than two-decade old assertion that he is innocent. No physical evidence ties Mr. Noling to the crime. All of the principal witnesses against him have recanted their testimony. Evidence that the State wrongfully withheld evidence at trial points to credible alternative suspects. Using the most advanced scientific technology to test shell casings and ring boxes could identify the person responsible for this crime. In addition, because no gun was ever found, Mr. Noling should be permitted to utilize the database that law enforcement uses to solve crimes to track down the murder weapon.”

Mr. Noling is asking the Ohio Supreme Court to grant him the same appellate review for his DNA application as non-capital defendants and allow the Court of Appeals to consider these important issues:

  • Mr. Noling is entitled to the results of the post-conviction DNA testing that he requested.
  • Mr. Noling should be permitted to request that the shell casings from the murder weapon in his case be run through the federal database in order to see if the murder weapon is linked to other crimes or a specific perpetrator.
  • A trial court must make findings in its selection of the lab to perform DNA testing, when the selection of the lab is in dispute.
  • A lab must make the scientific determinations listed in Ohio’s DNA testing statute based on scientific testing.”

— Carrie Wood, Assistant State Public Defender, Office of the Ohio Public Defender, September 30, 2015

Tyrone Noling is an innocent man on Ohio’s death row. He has spent more than eighteen years in prison for two murders that he did not commit, despite the fact that:

  • There is absolutely no physical evidence tying him to the murders.
  • All of the principal witnesses against him have recanted their testimony.
  • Recently discovered evidence that was withheld at trial points to credible alternative suspects.

Case update: March 31, 2014

Today, the 11th District Court of Appeals reversed and remanded Mr. Noling’s new trial appeal for another hearing in trial court.

The Court directed the trial court in Mr. Noling’s case to take additional evidence on the issue of whether the evidence at issue in the new trial motion was a part of the prosecutor’s open file or was otherwise available through the Sheriff’s materials at the time of the trial.

The opinion can be viewed here.

Case update: December 20, 2013

On December 19, 2013, a hearing was scheduled to take place before Judge John A. Enlow in the Portage County Court of Common Pleas on Tyrone Noling’s request for DNA testing of crucial pieces of evidence that may provide important information that supports Mr. Noling’s innocence claim.

Rather than proceed with the hearing, Judge Enlow ordered DNA testing of the cigarette butt, and a CODIS run if results are obtained. He also ordered an inquiry into whether DNA testing of the shell casings and ring boxes is possible.

While Judge Enlow took an important first step by ordering DNA testing of the cigarette butt, Mr. Noling’s attorneys are concerned that Judge Enlow’s request for that information is from the Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation (BCI), the Ohio state lab, which does not have the advanced scientific technology necessary to provide the highest quality information that the judge will need to make an informed decision.

Therefore, on December 20, 2013, Mr. Noling filed a motion and affidavit asking the court to allow a hearing in order to take expert testimony from Dr. Rick Staub, a leading expert in the field of DNA technology. Dr. Staub will inform the Court that BCI is simply not equipped with the most advanced scientific technology available, which will place severe limitations on the information it will be able to provide to the court.

This request is incredibly important to Tyrone Noling’s case. It is likely that the additional testing and the inquiry ordered by Judge Enlow for more information will likely consume the biological evidence making further DNA testing unavailable. Mr. Noling may have only one opportunity to test the DNA, so it must be done right.

Several experts have offered declarations attesting to the importance of not only subjecting the cigarette butt to DNA testing but also to expanding the scope of DNA testing in Mr. Noling’s case and using more advanced methods available today: