DNA Diagnostics Center strives to help others and give back to the community.

Legal and law enforcement professionals regularly contact our team of forensic scientists to assist them on the most difficult cases. DDC has developed a reputation as an unbiased, independent resource for both defense and prosecution. As a company, we have chosen to offer our forensic expertise and services free of charge in our home state of Ohio to serve its citizens who may have been wrongly convicted and could benefit from technological developments in DNA testing.

Solving crimes using DNA evidence, whether working with law enforcement to correctly identify a suspect or helping to free those wrongly convicted, involves complicated testing of materials and substances in various states of decay. The Forensics Team at DDC uses state-of-the-art methods to continually advance the science and to help to ensure the correct outcome. We are proud of our contributions to the state of Ohio criminal justice system as well as the other Innocence Projects around the country where DDC has assisted in the pursuit of truth.

The Ohio Innocence Project

Solving crimes using DNA evidence, whether working with law enforcement to correctly identify a suspect or helping to free those wrongly convicted, involves complicated testing of materials and substances in various states of decay.

In 2003, the Ohio Innocence Project was founded at the University of Cincinnati College of Law with generous gifts that endowed the Rosenthal Institute for Justice. In December 2005, Clarence Elkins was the Ohio Innocence Project’s first exoneration based upon DNA testing.

To learn more about the Ohio Innocence Project, visit their website and YouTube channel.

DDC started working with the Ohio Innocence Project in 2006, and has analyzed over 30 post-conviction cases. Four of those cases resulted in exonerations (see case descriptions below) and four confirmed guilt. Every year, DDC hosts a laboratory tour and DNA roundtable for the Ohio Innocence Project directors, Innocence Project staff attorneys, and University of Cincinnati Law School students. At the Ohio Innocence Project 2014 Tenth Anniversary Gala, DDC Forensics was honored as a key contributor to the non-profit organization’s success.

DDC Freedom Cases

The Forensics Team at DDC uses state-of-the-art methods to continually advance the science and to help to ensure the correct outcome. We are proud of our contributions to the state of Ohio criminal justice system as well as the other Innocence Projects around the country where DDC has assisted in the pursuit of truth.

Ralph Daniel Wright, Jr.
Convicted: 2014 | Conviction Vacated: 2017 | Time Served: 9 years

On July 6, 2007, Paula O’Conner and her 15-month-old son Alijah were found deceased in their Tampa, Florida home. The mother had been strangled and her baby had been suffocated. Ralph Wright Jr., then an Air Force sergeant stationed nearby, was O’Conner’s boyfriend at the time,  came under suspicion, and was charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

There had been disagreement between Wright and O’Conner over whether or not Alijah was Wright’s biological child, and in addition to this motive, the state’s case also focused on a single black glove that was at the crime scene. That glove was the same type issued for Wright’s military unit, but DNA testing by DDC could not match the glove to Wright nor could it be absolutely determined whether or not that glove actually came from Wright’s Air Force base.

Despite the lack of forensic evidence, Wright was found guilty on both murder counts and sentenced to death in 2014. The convictions were appealed to the Florida State Supreme Court. Based on many factors, including the results of the DNA testing performed by DDC, in May of 2017 the court unanimously vacated Wright’s conviction for the murders, ruling that the evidence against him was “purely circumstantial.”

Read the full story here

Dewey Jones
Convicted: 1995 | Exonerated: 2014 | Time Served: 19 years

Dewey Jones was convicted of robbing and killing 71-year old Neal Rankin, a family friend, at Rankin’s Akron home in 1993. While Jones had prior convictions related to drug trafficking and passing bad checks, he always maintained his innocence in Rankin’s murder.

In early 2012, the Forensics Team at DNA Diagnostics Center released its findings from the laboratory tests conducted on crime-scene DNA evidence. A partial male DNA profile was found on the piece of rope used to tie Rankin’s wrists, the knife used to cut the rope, and pieces of Rankin’s shirtsleeves. None of the DNA matched Jones’ DNA.

In 2012, Summit County Judge Mary Margaret Rowland overturned the conviction and granted a new trial. After two more years of legal proceedings, Jones’ charges for aggravated murder, kidnapping, and robbery were dismissed and he became a free man.

Raymond Towler
Convicted: 1981 | Exonerated: 2010 | Time Served: 29 years

In 1981, a 12-year boy and his 11-year old cousin were lured into a wooded area in a Cleveland park where the boy was assaulted and the girl raped. Three weeks after the crime, Raymond Towler was identified as matching the description of the suspect during a routine traffic stop. Despite a lack of physical evidence connecting Towler to the scene of the crime and a corroborated alibi, he was convicted in large part based on mistaken identification in a photo array selection process, and sentenced to life because the victim was less than 13 years old plus 12 to 40 years.

Despite three earlier attempts to prove his innocence using DNA testing, the break-through came in 2010 when the Forensics Team at DNA Diagnostics Center was able to demonstrate that the male DNA from the girl’s underwear excluded Towler as the perpetrator. DDC’s use of relatively new, advanced technology in Y-STR testing was the evidence that ultimately cleared Towler.

After nearly three decades in prison for crimes he did not commit at the age of 24, Towler was exonerated in 2010 and became a free man at the age of 52.

Robert McClendon
Convicted: 1991 | Exonerated: 2008 | Time Served: 17 years

Robert McClendon was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for allegedly raping his own 10-year old daughter who had only seen her dad once in her life before the day of the assault. The young girl had been abducted from a convenience store, blindfolded, and driven to an abandoned house where she was raped. At the hospital on the day following the attack, the victim said “I think it was my dad but I may be wrong because my eyes were covered.” McClendon always maintained that he did not commit the crime.

In 2008, the prosecutor in the McClendon case submitted evidence to the Forensics Team at DNA Diagnostics Center. The team found traces of semen on the girl’s underwear and DDC scientists performed a Y-STR test that generates a DNA profile from the Y chromosome (found only in males). A comparison to the Y-STR profile from McClendon revealed that he could not have been the source of the DNA from the semen stain.

Based on the findings from the DDC analysis, the Franklin County judge ordered the immediate release of McClendon and he walked out of the courthouse a free man.