Perhaps you’ve heard of people who have been wrongly convicted and are serving time for crimes they didn’t commit and wondered how things like that could happen. For our client, Martin L. Hatton, it was a matter of the prosecution’s expert witness giving testimony at trial that was inconsistent with DNA testing.
Mr. Hatton, who always asserted his innocence, was convicted in Pickaway County in 1997 of aggravated burglary, kidnapping, rape and felonious assault and is serving a 39-year sentence.
Through the efforts of John Gonzales, documents came to light in 2018 that proved Mr. Hatton could not have committed the crime. One of those documents was a memo from June 1998 that showed that police crime lab employee Raman Tejwani, the state’s DNA expert at the trial, knew the DNA test used to convict Mr. Hatton actually excluded him as a possible contributor of the semen found on the victim and her clothes. Nonetheless, Ms. Tejwani testified at trial that the DNA results could not exclude Mr. Hatton or include anyone.
Based on this evidence, John requested a new trial for Mr. Hatton. On such an important matter you would have thought the Pickaway trial court would have conducted a hearing, but it didn’t. The court denied the request out of hand. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth District affirmed the trial court’s decision.
John persuaded the Ohio Supreme Court to take the case and argued before the court last March. In early November, the court held that the trial court must grant Mr. Hatton a hearing on whether a new trial is warranted. After some 25 years of being inside the walls of prison, Mr. Hatton now has some hope of being freed.