The students are working as part of the Ohio Innocence Project, based out of the UC College of Law. The most recent developments in the case will be included when "American Justice" airs on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on A&E.
The show will also repeat on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 3 a.m. Eastern.
The episode retells the facts of the Elkins case, including the efforts of the Ohio Innocence Project on his behalf after they were contacted in 2004. Elkins is serving a life sentence for the 1998 murder and rape of his mother-in-law and rape of his niece in Barberton, Ohio.
The Ohio Innocence Project, based in the college’s Rosenthal Institute for Justice, agreed to take up Elkins’ case when they found specific, credible points worth investigating that could prove he was innocent of those crimes.
No physical evidence, DNA or otherwise, has ever linked Elkins to the crime scene. Elkins’ conviction came primarily on the strength of testimony by his niece, who told the authorities that her attacker resembled her uncle. However, she only saw the man in the dark, and she has since recanted any assertion that it may have been her uncle.
Since becoming involved in the case, the Ohio Innocence Project has been able to prove that DNA recovered from the victims could not have come from Elkins. A motion for a new trial filed on that basis by Ohio Innocence Project faculty advisor Mark Godsey and Akron-based attorney Jana DeLoach was rejected over the summer by the Summit County, Ohio, Court of Common Pleas.
Since that time, additional evidence has been developed that matches the DNA from the crime scene to Earl Mann, a convicted child molester who was known to be nearby at the time the crimes were committed. With that most recent revelation, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro has publicly come out in support of the immediate release of Elkins. The matter rests at this point with the Summit County prosecutor’s office.
UC law students David Laing, Scott Evans, Un Kyong Ho and Meghan Anderson all have worked on Elkins’ case. The leading advocate for Elkins has been his wife, Melinda Elkins, who has believed in her husband’s innocence all along.
For more information about the Ohio Innocence Project and the work it is doing, visit the project’s Web site at: http://www.law.uc.edu/clj/index.html