The Ohio Supreme Court ruling in Ohio v. Noling is available in Adobe .pdf format.
Carrie Wood, a staff attorney with the Ohio Innocence Project, and counsel for Tyrone Noling has issued a statement, "Ohio Supreme Court’s Decision to Return the Case to the Trial Court to Consider Whether to Grant DNA Testing."
“We are pleased that the Ohio Supreme Court remanded Tyrone Noling’s case to the trial court to consider whether to grant DNA testing in this case. Mr. Noling has spent more than 15 years on death row for two murders he did not commit. We hope that the trial court will order DNA testing of the cigarette butt found at the crime scene and order the results of this new testing be uploaded to the CODIS database for comparison. We also hope that the trial court orders a search for all evidence collected from the crime scene so that the lab might DNA test any additional items the perpetrator may have touched.
“The DNA testing of the cigarette butt may provide another piece of important information that supports Mr. Noling’s innocence. No physical evidence connects Mr. Noling to the crime. In fact, the physical evidence that exists excludes him as the perpetrator. All of the principal witnesses against Mr. Noling have recanted their testimony. The witnesses said they testified falsely against Mr. Noling because they were threatened with the death penalty or prison sentences if they did not. The prosecutors in this case wrongfully withheld evidence that indicates someone else committed the crime.
“DNA testing is an important step in helping to identify the person responsible for this crime and resolving the case. Ohio must not continue to keep an innocent man on death row.”
Associated Press coverage is, "Ohio high court clarifies DNA re-testing, orders reconsideration of death row inmate's request," by Kantele Franko. It's via the Republic.
A trial court should reconsider an inmate's request for new DNA testing on a cigarette butt found near the scene of a double murder for which he was sentenced to death, the Ohio Supreme Court said Thursday in a ruling that clarifies the handling of post-conviction DNA retesting requests.
In the 5-2 decision, justices said a lower court was wrong to deny Tyrone Noling's second request for new testing without considering the context of updated statutory requirements. Those requirements were enacted in 2010, after Noling's first retesting request was rejected but months before the second was made.
Noling was convicted of killing Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig at their Portage County home in 1990, but he maintains his innocence.
Pretrial testing showed Noling and his co-defendants hadn't smoked the cigarette, which was found on the Hartigs' driveway. Noling contends technological advances make it possible to identify the smoker and determine whether that person was among other previously undisclosed suspects.
The court said the amended criteria allow DNA retesting under certain conditions, including if it would reveal new information that an earlier test couldn't.
An attorney for Noling said his defense team is hopeful the lower court will order new DNA testing, calling it "an important step in helping to identify the person responsible for this crime and resolving the case."
"Death Row Inmate Wins Case for New DNA Testing," by Mike Wagner in the Columbus Dispatch.
Convicted inmates still trying to prove their innocence from Death Row and elsewhere in Ohio’s prison system received an assist from the Ohio Supreme Court yesterday.
The court ruled 5-2 that a Portage County court must reconsider DNA testing for Death Row inmate Tyrone Noling, who was convicted in 1996 of murdering an elderly couple in their home.
The ruling says that Noling’s current request for testing shouldn’t have been dismissed simply because he previously was denied testing. The ruling also said that the local court didn’t take into account new standards and expanded criteria for testing approved by Ohio lawmakers in 2010.
The decision will have significance in other Ohio post-conviction cases, mainly because it reaffirms the new state law that encourages more testing if the evidence is significant to the case and to take advantage of advances in DNA-testing technology.
“Noling contends that (the state law) significantly changed and expanded the criteria for permitting further DNA testing. We agree,” wrote Justice Judith Ann Lanzinger, who wrote the court’s decision.
The decision also confirmed the Supreme Court’s right to hear appeals of a trial court’s denial of DNA testing in all Death Row cases.
"Portage court must reconsider DNA request in 1990 double murder case," by Ed Meyer and Stephanie Warsmith in the Akron Beacon Journal.
A Portage County death-row inmate scored a victory Thursday in his fight for new DNA tests of crime scene evidence from a 1990 double murder with an Ohio Supreme Court decision ordering a lower court to reconsider the issue.
The high court’s ruling does not grant Tyrone Noling new testing of a cigarette butt found at the scene of the murders, but it does require the trial court in Portage County to take another look at it.
“A trial court must consider current versions of statutes in ruling on an inmate’s application for new DNA testing of biological material in a death penalty case,” the court said in its majority opinion.
The wording refers to a law passed by the Ohio Legislature in July 2010, which opened the way for DNA retesting — using the latest technology — if it can be shown the tests could determine the true perpetrator.
"Death Row Inmate Tyrone Noling Can Request New DNA Test," by Peter Krouse for the ''Cleveland Plain Dealer.
The Ohio Supreme Court has cleared the way for a death-row inmate to request additional DNA testing on a cigarette butt that he hopes will clear him of a 23-year-old double homicide in Portage County.
The high court, citing a 2010 amendment to state law that allows for limited retesting of DNA -- ordered a trial court to consider Tyrone Noling's request for additional testing of the cigarette butt. (See the ruling below. Mobile users can see it here.)
Prior testing of saliva on the butt, which was found in the driveway of murder victims Bearnhardt and Cora Hartig in 1990, determined that Noling was not the source of the DNA.
Noling, who was convicted of the murders, wants to retest the evidence in light of advanced procedures that could determine if another man's DNA is present in the saliva.
In 2008, a court refused to order retesting of the cigarette butt because Ohio law at the time prevented DNA from being retested if a prior test produced "definitive" evidence. The court determined that the test that ruled out Noling and his co-defendants as the source of the DNA was such a test.
Earlier coverage of Tyrone Noling's case begins at the link.