COLUMBUS - The House Criminal Justice Committee began hearings on House Bill 586. The bi-partisan legislation, sponsored by State Representatives Jean Schmidt (R-Loveland) and Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland), would allow DNA evidence to be considered during a trial regardless of whether the prosecution or defense ordered the testing.
The bill aims to protect Ohioans from being falsely imprisoned despite evidence that can prove their innocence.
“This legislation is important to fix one of the loopholes in Ohio law that can put innocent people behind bars. By fixing this injustice, we can ensure that everyone has the opportunity to prove their innocence,” said Schmidt. “I thank Representative Upchurch for joining me and getting this legislation moving forward and I thank the Criminal Justice Committee for bringing it up for discussion. We will continue to work to get this law passed.”
The case of Anthony Apanovitch brought this serious issue to the two legislators. After being convicted of rape and murder, Apanovitch was placed on death row and has spent decades in prison since. Apanovitch was hopeful for his release upon the discovery of DNA evidence that proved his innocence; however, his defense team didn’t order the testing, and under current Ohio law, the evidence was inadmissible.
“This bill addresses a crucial concern with regards to our justice system: Those that are wrongfully convicted not being able to prove their own innocence following the discovery of new evidence,” said Upchurch.
H.B. 586 now awaits a second hearing.