**Update - Statement of Attorney for Tyrone Noling on Ohio Supreme Court’s Decision to
Return the Case to the Trial Court to Consider Whether to Grant DNA Testing
“We are pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court remanded Tyrone Noling’s case
to the trial court to consider whether to grant DNA testing in this case.
Mr. Noling has spent more than 15 years on death row for two murders he did
not commit. We hope that the trial court will order DNA testing of the
cigarette butt found at the crime scene and order the results of this new
testing be uploaded to the CODIS database for comparison. We also hope
that the trial court orders a search for all evidence collected from the
crime scene so that the lab might DNA test any additional items the
perpetrator may have touched.
“The DNA testing of the cigarette butt may provide another piece of
important information that supports Mr. Noling’s innocence. No physical
evidence connects Mr. Noling to the crime. In fact, the physical evidence
that exists excludes him as the perpetrator. All of the principal witnesses
against Mr. Noling have recanted their testimony. The witnesses said they
testified falsely against Mr. Noling because they were threatened with the
death penalty or prison sentences if they did not. The prosecutors in this
case wrongfully withheld evidence that indicates someone else committed the
“DNA testing is an important step in helping to identify the person
responsible for this crime and resolving the case. Ohio must not continue
to keep an innocent man on death row.”
Carrie Wood, Staff Attorney at Ohio Innocence Project, Attorney for Tyrone
To read the briefs filed at the Ohio Supreme Court, click here [link to Tyrone’s Merit Brief; State’s Merit Brief; Tyrone’s Reply due 2.21.2012; Tyrone’s Supplemental Merit Brief; State’s Supplemental Merit Brief]
Tyrone Noling is an innocent man on Ohio’s death row. He has spent more than fifteen 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.
In April 1990, Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig were tragically shot to death in their home in Atwater, Ohio. Neither Tyrone’s fingerprints, nor those of his alleged accomplices, were found in the Hartig home, despite uncontroverted evidence that the perpetrator touched many items and ransacked the home. DNA testing of a cigarette butt found at the crime scene excluded Tyrone and his alleged accomplices. No eyewitnesses placed Tyrone or his young friends at the scene of the crime.
The lack of evidence led then-Portage County Sheriff Kenneth Howe to dismiss Tyrone and the other youths as viable suspects, saying “It just didn’t fit.”
The fact that the boys even became suspects is puzzling. The police had absolutely no physical evidence from the crime scene pointing to any of them. The only thing that the police did have was the fact that in early April 1990, Tyrone and his friends were involved in a handful of minor thefts and two bumbling home robberies, including one in which Tyrone accidentally discharged a .25 caliber gun—a gun that was not the Hartig murder weapon. Not only did these crimes take place in another town miles away, they were strikingly different in nature from the cold-blooded murders of the Hartigs.
Evidence developed since trial suggests that because of the lack of evidence, an investigator—who the prosecution brought in two years later to “solve” the high-profile crime—simply relied on coercing, threatening, and manipulating witnesses to build a case against Tyrone.
More evidence supporting Tyrone’s innocence is still being sought, including DNA testing on crime scene evidence that could help identify the true perpetrator.
Despite the troublesome doubt about the reliability of Tyrone’s conviction, he has yet to receive a hearing on the merits of his innocence claims.
For more information about the evidence of innocence, read an executive summary of the case. [link to executive summary]