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Jury ends Tuesday deliberations in Denny Ross retrial

5:48 PM, Oct 2, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON --  Friends and family of Hannah Hill have been waiting for 13 years for justice. And they'll wait another day, or longer, for the jury to decide if Denny Ross is guilty of her murder.

During the first day of deliberations, jurors requested the phone records from Hannah Hill's home landline, as well as the transcript from Denny Ross' initial interview with Akron police. 

The nine-woman, three-man jury left without a verdict just after 4:30 p.m. After 20 days of testimony with nearly 70 witnesses, there's a lot of detail for jurors to wade through.

They are the second jury to consider the case against Ross. A judge declared a mistrial in 2000 due to jury misconduct, after it was discovered jurors discussed a lie detector test that was not presented as evidence at trial.

What's changed in 12 years?

Advanced forensic tests have given prosecutors new DNA evidence in the prosecutors do-over of Denny Ross, 33.

Prosecutors say Ross' DNA was found on Hannah Hill, 18, when her body was located, beaten, strangled and raped - then stuffed inside the trunk of her own car. They also found his mark on her clothing and her purse, found outside his Canton Road apartment.

"Hannah can't testify in this case," said Special Prosecutor Matthew Meyer, out of Cuyahoga County, in closing statements made Monday. "So her clothes, what she was wearing, her last night on earth, have to tell us the story."

The defense says Ross and Hill were intimate, explaining the DNA, but that he didn't kill her. In fact, defense attorneys, led by prominent Cleveland attorney Roger Synenberg, argue he wouldn't have had time to do it.

Synenberg says prosecutors built a case around Denny Ross, instead of the crime itself.

"They wanted to get the heat off the Akron Police Department. And once they found that trashbag outside of Denny's apartment, that was it. We don't want to hear anything else," he said, in closing statements.

Now a panel of 12 of his peers will decide: Will they clear Denny Ross's name or label him Hannah Hill's killer?

Even if the jury acquits Ross of the charges, he won't walk away a free man. He's currently serving a 25-year sentence after he was convicted of the rape and attempted murder of an Akron woman in 2004.

The victim in that case was allowed to testify last week in this trial, but limitations were place upon her testimony.

The jury is considering the following charges against Ross:

  • Count 1 - Murder, purposely caused the death of Hill
  • Count 2 - Murder, caused the death during commission of felonious assault.
  • Count 3 - Tampering with evidence
  • Count 4 - Abuse of a corpse
  • Count 5 - Felonious assault

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