DNA evidence doesn’t match inmate serving time for murder

From the Columbus Dispatch
April 24, 2012
By  Mike Wagner

New lab test results show that DNA recovered from a murder scene in Summit County didn’t come from an Akron man who has served 17 years of a life sentence for the crime. 

Dewey Jones, 50, who has always maintained that he was innocent, predicted during a prison interview last year that DNA testing would show he was not a murderer. Jones was convicted in March of 1995 for robbing and killing 71-year-old Neal Rankin, who was considered a family friend. 

“I’ve done some things I’m not proud of in life and made some bad choices,” Jones told The Dispatch from the Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield. “But I’ve not hurt or killed anyone.” 

The tests, conducted by DNA Diagnostics Center of Fairfield, north of Cincinnati, found a partial male DNA profile on the piece of rope used to tie Rankin’s wrists, the knife used to cut the rope and pieces of Rankin’s shirt sleeves. None of it matched Jones when compared to his DNA. 

Attorneys from the Ohio Innocence Project, who are representing Jones, believe the results prove Jones’ innocence and want him set him free. 

“This is significant because we know that the perpetrator touched the items revealing the unknown male DNA profile,” said Carrie Wood, Jones’ attorney from the Innocence Project office in Cincinnati. “With DNA test results excluding Dewey Jones, along with other evidence demonstrating Mr. Jones’s innocence, our hope is that the court will overturn Mr. Jones’ conviction.” 

Prosecutors from the Ohio Attorney General’s office are handling the case. Lisa Peterson Hackley, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Mike DeWine, said prosecutors are reviewing the court filings and DNA test results. They had no other comment. 

The test results were filed in court today, and Wood filed motions today asking Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands to either overturn Jones’ conviction or grant him a new trial. Prosecutors have until late May to respond, and Rowlands is scheduled to rule on the case on July 9. 

Jones’ case was highlighted in the Dispatch series “Test of Convictions,” which exposed Ohio’s flawed evidence-retention and DNA-testing systems. 

The 2008 series, which can be found online atwww.Dispatch.com/reports, has led to the exoneration of four men and proved the guilt of four others based on DNA testing during the past three years. 

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