Petro has sent a letter to the prosecutor’s office in Summit County in which he says that evidence proves that Elkins is innocent and should be released from prison. While no action on immediate release seems to be forthcoming from the Summit County authorities, Petro’s support has nonetheless added to a growing sense of optimism among the UC law students who have worked on Elkins’ case for the Innocence Project.
"Jim Petro reviewed the evidence and, like any objective and reasonable person would, came to the conclusion that Mr. Elkins did not commit this crime," said Mark Godsey, UC associate professor of law and faculty director for the Ohio Innocence Project. "I applaud Jim Petro for having the courage and integrity to stand up and do the right thing -- to fight for justice."
Elkins is serving a life sentence for a 1998 murder and rape. The Ohio Innocence Project, based out of the Rosenthal Institute for Justice in the UC College of Law, has been working for the last year to develop DNA evidence that would show Elkins could not have committed the crime.
An appeal they filed on the basis of showing that DNA found on the crime victims did not come from Elkins was denied this summer in the Summit County courts. Last month, new information was developed that showed the DNA recovered from the victims to be a match with a convicted child molester who was near the crime scene on the night of the attack.
The law students and all others advocating for Elkins have promised to continue pursuing every possible legal avenue to secure his release as soon as possible.