Ohio Supreme Court Rules Death Row Inmate Tyrone Noling Can Appeal Denial of DNA Testing of Evidence in 1990 Murder

The Ohio Supreme Court ruled today in a 4-3 vote that Tyrone Noling can appeal the denial of his request to have shell casings from the scene of a 1990 murder he's spent 20 years on death row for tested for DNA evidence. Noling has maintained his innocence fervently over two decades and many law enforcement officials and the Ohio Innocence Project believe him.

The gist of the ruling at hand is this: In non-capital cases, post-conviction requests for DNA testing that have been denied can automatically be appealed. In capital cases, however, that wasn't the case. Noling previously had won the right to have a cigarette butt from the scene of the crime — the murders of Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig — tested for DNA. It didn't match that of Noling. The shell casings and ring boxes, meanwhile, hadn't been tested for DNA despite the fact that two labs in Ohio conduct such tests.

In today's decision, the state supreme court ruled the part of a state law allowing automatic appeals for non-capital cases but not for capital cases unconstitutional. Noling now has 45 days to file a brief arguing why the casings and ring boxes should be tested.

Scene's feature back in 2003, which you should read, lays out the many problems in the state's case, from no physical evidence tying Noling to the crime to recantations from state witnesses.
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