Ohio Supreme Court Will Hear Tyrone Noling's Death Row Appeal: UPDATE

Ohio Supreme Court Will Hear Tyrone Noling's Death Row Appeal: UPDATE

The Ohio Supreme Court announced today that oral arguments in Tyrone Noling's ongoing appellate review case are scheduled for May 31. 

The oral arguments will address Noling's request that the Ohio Supreme Court grant him the "same appellate review for his DNA application as non-capital defendants." Routinely, death row inmates' requests for post-convicion DNA testing are denied. Noling has remained on death row for 20 years; convicted of murder, he has maintained his innocence and regularly cited the lack of physical evidence against him in this case and the recantations of state witness testimony.

(See our earlier coverage below, and read Scene's 2003 feature here.)

Noling is specifically asking for all results of post-conviction DNA testing in his case. He also wants the shell casings from the murder weapon to be run through the federal database — particularly in order to see if the murder weapon is linked to other crimes or a specific perpetrator. Lastly, Noling seeks "an appropriately selected lab to make the scientific determinations listed in Ohio’s DNA testing statute based on scientific testing."

Originally published Sept. 30, 2015

The Ohio Supreme Court today accepted jurisdiction in the appeal of Tyrone Noling, a death row inmate convicted of murder almost 20 years ago. 

Scene published a feature on the case in 2003. 

"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," Carrie Wood, assistant state public defender, wrote today. "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."

Wood was referring to the appeals process for death row inmates in Ohio whose post-conviction DNA testing requests are denied. Noling has repeatedly requested that shell casings and ring boxes found at the crime scene be tested for DNA — a use of technology that was not as advanced as it is today when Noling was first convicted.

The Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation has insisted that the shell casings and ring boxes are "unsuitable for DNA testing," despite having never attempted to perform such tests. "Yet," Wood wrote in an email to Scene earlier this year, "at least two other state labs in Ohio perform testing on fired shell casings when the forensic question relates to the identity of the shooter, as do the government labs in a number of other states."  

On June 22, the Eleventh District Court of Appeals dismissed Noling’s appeal, ruling that the Ohio Supreme Court — rather than the Eleventh District — is the court in which Noling should be filing his appeal. Hence today's news.

“Ohio must do everything in its power to be sure it does not execute an innocent man," Wood wrote today. "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.”