When Prosecutors Defend a Wrongful Conviction, Who Prosecutes the Real Perp?

Clarence Elkins, who spent seven and a half  years incarcerated for crimes DNA proved he did not commit, is having a sickening sense of déjà vu.  His letter to the editor published in the Akron Beacon Journal (here) draws parallels between his wrongful conviction and the case of former Akron police captain Douglas Prade.

In both cases the Summit County Prosecutor resisted considering a wrongful conviction even after DNA testing of crucial crime scene evidence did not match the convicted men.

In Elkins’s case, the prosecutor resisted revisiting the case even as more advanced testing proved unequivocally that Elkins was not the source of the crime scene biological evidence. She eventually acknowledged the wrongful conviction when DNA testing of the evidence linked to Earl Mann, a convicted felon with a history of child molestation. Mann lived just doors away from the scene of the murder and rape of Elkins’s mother-in-law and the rape of his six-year-old niece.  When confronted with the DNA lab results, Mann admitted committing the crimes.

Last month, Common Pleas Judge Judy Hunter declared Douglas Prade “actually innocent” of the murder of his former wife, Dr. Margo Prade. Doug Prade had served fifteen years in prison for the crime when the judge ordered his immediate release.

The Summit County prosecutor announced the same day that she would appeal the decision. Prade had been convicted largely on the testimony of a forensic dentist who said that a bite mark, which penetrated the victim’s lab coat and blouse and left an impression on her arm, was left by Douglas Prade. However, recent DNA testing of the evidence on the lab coat at the bite mark did not match Prade.

Since Prade’s conviction, DNA has proven that bite mark evidence and testimony has  been unreliable in several cases of wrongful conviction. With no tangible evidence against Prade, the prosecutor would need to rely on circumstantial evidence to prosecute him.

Elkins recalls a similar pattern in his case. “The Summit County Prosecutor’s Office, in its fight to keep an innocent man in prison in 2005, pointed to all the trial witnesses who said I was the only one with a motive…

“The same trial attorneys prosecuted both of us (Prade and Elkins), and they somehow got witnesses to spin things to make it look much worse for us than what was actually true,” wrote Elkins.

“…When I read the prosecutor’s comments about Prade, it made me feel sick,” Elkins said.

“Instead of wasting their time trying to put an innocent man back in prison, prosecutors should be out trying to find the real killer,” he added.

That’s a very good point, and one that is seldom mentioned. When an innocent person is convicted, a guilty one has escaped justice and is free to continue criminal acts.  In the Elkins case, for example, Earl Mann raped three little girls while the innocent Elkins languished in prison.

We would like to think that when a wrongfully convicted person is exonerated, the real perpetrator will be apprehended and prosecuted.  However, if the jurisdiction’s prosecutor refuses to acknowledge a conviction error, it’s less likely that a serious investigation will be launched. Tragically, when a prosecutor chooses to protect a verdict rather than fulfill his or her first responsibility to seek the truth and true justice, the real perpetrator—even if a violent murderer—can get a free pass.

15 responses to “When Prosecutors Defend a Wrongful Conviction, Who Prosecutes the Real Perp?

  1. Some people DONT REALIZE what makes a ‘GOOD PROSECUTOR’ OR Defence Attorney for that matter is the ‘One’s who are WILLING to ADMIT that they’ve made a ‘Mistake’ and got it WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE!! The only problem with this is…. THE GOOD ONE’S are VERY RARE compared to the one’s who ar willing to ‘tarnish’ there integrity!!

    I love reading the story’s that the ‘innocence project’s’ post they’re all so VERY EDUCATIONAL AND…. YOU ALL do such a WONDERFUL JOB!!

    I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful job that you all do at making effort to educate the public BUT… THANK YO ALL EVEN MOF for your efforts in keeping INNOCENT people OUT OF PRISON AND OFF FROM DEATH ROW when you can!!! 🙂 🙂

    • INTEGRITY???? Since when does any lawyer/LIAR have any integrity? The word attorney is Latin to TURN or LIE.

  2. Sorry for spelling error… dog gone spell checker!! 🙂

  3. How can this just keep on? who makes laws that let them do wrong?
    Can they sleep at night after?

    • I wonder how they sleep at night also ! How many innocently convicted are not only in jail, but sitting on death row because of the arrogance and self centred attitude of the District Attorney . The Justice system now is Guilty until proven innocent, and play by our rules ! I don’t recall the last time a lie detector result was mentioned when an accused passed the test, but it would be made publicly to distort the truth if failed. The same as DNA, if this science can determine King Richards III , and micro carbons can specifically demonstrate a high protein food intake after 500 years, why then would the DA refuse Kirstin Blaise Lobato of a DNA test to prove her innocence ? Why, because that would make the DA look “wrong” and “tarnish” his image, meanwhile a murderer walks free ! Mr. DA, swallow your pride, and do what your paid to do, Justice, only to the guilty person !

  4. If prosecutors received actual discipline (i.e. jail time) whenever their misconduct caused a wrongful conviction, they would no longer have any incentive to put knowingly inncoent people behind bars. Two years mandatory minimums for corrupt prosecutors is desperately needed to restore any sense of integrity to the process.

  5. If I was one of these prosecutors, no, I would not be able to sleep at night… although most of them are such hardened sociopaths they would never admit they’re wrong. I had a friend who even went so far as to compare lawyers, the entire profession, to pedophiles and rapists. I wouldn’t quite go that far in ALL cases, but there are a few in the profession (namely these rogue prosecutors) who deserve that comparison many times over.

    • pigsticker, ALL top judges, lawyers, are PEDOPHILES. The BAR is a satanic secret society that the members swear an oath of allegiance to. A defense attorney has no allegiance to his client, but only to the BAR.

  6. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    WHAT IF …

    The guilty one (G1) is out and about for crime A and continues crimes as innocent defendant X sits in prison ; then G1 commits violent crimes against the prosecutor’s loved one ? ‼

  7. Reblogged this on Upside Down.

  8. Judge doesn’t recall wrongful conviction evidence. See http://lubbockonline.com/texas/2013-02-06/judge-doesnt-recall-wrongful-conviction-evidence#.URewCB1EGSo This position (selective amnesia) is the one assumed after the courts reject the “I-still-believe-the-exoneree-is-guilty” ploy.

  9. Pingback: When Does the Fight Stop? – The Role of the Prosecution | Innocence Project of Florida

  10. Pingback: Why I Think the US Justice System is Broken – and Why It’s Not Getting Fixed | Wrongful Convictions Blog

  11. One of the earlier comments alluded to a disturbing reason for why prosecutors may refuse to acknowledge a conviction error. If there is a sinister intent, then it would not be much of a jump suggest that the conviction itself may have been for similar reasons.

  12. My comment is a comment and a question.

    When will the prosecutors and cops be held accountable when they convict the wrong person?
    They act like they are God! The cops and the prosecutors can lie to people to gain their trust only to convince them to confess to a crime they didn’t commit or if a person will NOT confess they make it up or conveniently overlook the real clues or the truth!!!

    They do not care about the real person that committed the crime. They are only concerned about convicting someone so they can add a feather to their cap. God knows it is a thousand times worse during election year.

    Maybe the news media should routinely post the statistics for the wrongly convicted.

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