AKRON, Ohio — At least one juror who helped put Douglas Prade behind bars, calls the judge’s ruling a miscarriage of justice.
“I’m just disappointed that you can convict a man for murder and then he just gets out,” said Anne Lapuh.
Lapuh was juror number 11 on the jury that convicted Douglas Prade, who is now 66, in 1998. She says although most of the evidence against him was circumstantial, there was enough evidence to find him guilty of killing his ex-wife, Dr. Margo Prade in the parking lot of her office in 1997.
“There was the bite mark. There was the fact that he had showered and come back to the scene. He was clean, and we said who else would have done it? This person got in her car and killed her,” Lapuh said.
Lapuh says she felt that the bite mark on Dr. Prade’s arm was the prosecution’s strongest piece of evidence. But newly tested DNA from her lab coat is what caused Judge Judith Hunter to throw out the jury’s conviction.
“You can put 12 people on a jury and it’s like what we said didn’t matter,” she said.
Lapuh says the jury also came to the conclusion that the bite mark was from Prade.
“When they put those bottom teeth into that bite mark, they were like a puzzle. I mean he had really uneven teeth and they just fit right in there like a puzzle. There was no doubt that those were his teeth,” said Lapuh.
Prosecutors said at trial, there was only a lower bite impression on Dr. Prade’s arm.
Lapuh feels it was no coincidence that Douglas Prade has dentures for top teeth.
“I still feel that he killed her and if he didn’t, he knows who did,” she said.
“We feel it is a misapplication of the law. The judge had defined that no juror would have found him guilty based upon the evidence presented and we find that’s not proper. We find that’s unrealistic. We filed our notice of appeal with the Ninth District Court of Appeals,” said assistant Summit County prosecutor Brad Gessner.
Lapuh says some jurors tried to be sympathetic towards Prade for the sake of his two daughters, now in their 20s, but says the evidence was overwhelming.
“We were very, very careful. If we convicted him, I mean, we probably gave him the most leeway because we really care. We didn’t go in there and rush through everything. We really, really cared,” she said.
Prosecutors believe other compelling evidence presented at trial, included 400 of his wife’s phone calls that Prade secretly recorded. He was convicted of wiretapping as well.
Lapuh says she was also influenced by a piece of paper that had the amount of Dr. Prade’s life insurance policy, minus Prade’s outstanding expenses. Prosecutors contend he wrote it out before Margo Prade’s death.