"Can Ohio Handle the Truth About The Tyrone Noling Case?" is Andrew Cohen's latest post at the Atlantic.
There are four hard truths in Tyrone Noling's unenviable life. The first three form a part of his past that he can never get back: bad choices and decisions he made, or that were made for him, which have put him where he is today. The fourth truth is the biggest part of his present, and will surely determine his future -- or whether he even has a future. Noling is on Ohio's death row, and has been since 1996, for a crime he says he didn't commit; a crime to which he is linked by so little reliable evidence that a federal appeals court last year went out of its way to express "concern" about the accuracy of Noling's conviction.
The first truth in Tyrone Noling's life is that an elderly couple named Cora and Bearnhardt Hartig were murdered in their home in 1990. The second is that Noling, then a teenager, was convicted of the murders despite passing a lie detector test -- even though there was no physical evidence linking him to the Hartigs and the witnesses against him, co-defendants, were so unreliable that prosecutors initially dropped the charges against him. The third truth about Noling is that Ohio won't allow his attorneys to DNA test a cigarette found at the scene, evidence, the defense suggests, which might determine who might have killed the couple.
The fourth truth is unfolding now. Last Tuesday, for about half an hour, the Supreme Court of Ohio heard oral argument in the Noling case. His lawyers are asking the justices to recognize a broad application of a new state law designed to encourage DNA testing in cases like these. Prosecutors, claiming the butt is irrelevant, are asking the justices to preclude any further testing on the cigarette. Here is the video of the January 8th argument. If you have the time, it's well worth watching as a prime example of how infrequently appellate judges and lawyers talk about justice in our criminal justice system.
Earlier coverage of Tyrone Noling's case begins at the link.