AKRON, Ohio - Thirteen years after first trying Denny Ross for the 1999 murder of Hannah Hill, a case that ended in a mistrial, prosecutors are asking a second jury to find him guilty of the crime.
Hill's body was found in the trunk of her car in an Akron neighborhood in May of 1999.
She had been raped and strangled. Prosecutors have tried to prove that Ross was the last person who ever saw her alive when she visited him the night she disappeared.
In his closing arguments on Monday Ross' attorney Roger Synenberg told jurors that prosecutors have spent 13 years investigating Denny Ross and not the crime.
Prosecutors, however, had the first say in trying to convince jurors otherwise.
Asst. Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Matthew Meyer, one of several 'special prosecutors' brought in to try the case, reminded the jury that Hill's clothing and her purse were discovered in a garbage bag outside of Ross' apartment.
"You heard all this commotion about why would they charge this guy. Are you kidding me? Why wouldn't they charge a guy who’s got a dead girl’s clothes and purse in a trash bag right outside his apartment?" said Meyer.
Meyer also asked jurors to consider evidence that included Ross DNA on the victim's underwear.
"You can't stop with the underwear though," Meyer told jurors.
"What do we find underneath (Hill's) left fingernails? We find DNA consistent with the Y chromosome of Denny Ross," said Meyer.
"He had a purpose in mind when he choked her, caused the death of Hannah Hill," concluded Meyer. "You can't choke a person and not have an intent to kill."
Throughout the nearly two-month-old trial, Synenberg has repeatedly tried to portray Hill's boyfriend, Brad Oborn, as a more likely suspect.
He continued that theme throughout his closing arguments on Monday, telling jurors "We don’t have to prove anything."
"The evidence is not there, certainly beyond a reasonable doubt," said Synenberg, who wove testimony and phone records into a timeline that he argued made it impossible for Ross to have left Hill's body in her car on Cain Road and been back at his apartment to make a phone call within 45 minutes of the crime.
"We don't have to prove Brad Oborn did this. They have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Denny did it," said Synenberg.
Synenberg suggested that once a missing persons report was publicized in the media, Akron police were both embarrassed that they had not found Hill's car sooner and that there was a tremendous amount of pressure to solve the case, calling their investigation "inept."
"Once they found that trash bag outside Denny's apartment that was it. They didn’t want to know anything else," said Synenberg.
He told the jury about hairs that were also found on Hill's body that were never tested. He speculated that the reason investigators did not more closely examine other evidence or focus closer on Oborn was because they "had their guy" and they did not want to be wrong.
Synenberg theorized that Hill was murdered outside of Ross' apartment.
"They are talking about motive, but even they don't know what the motive is," argued Synenberg.