State of Ohio v. Melvin Bonnell, Case No. 2017-1360
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court
ISSUE: Under Ohio's law for postconviction DNA testing requests, must a trial court conduct an evidentiary hearing if an offender claims that denial of the testing would violate the offender's constitutional rights?
In 1988, Melvin Bonnell was convicted of murdering Robert Bunner in Cleveland and was sentenced to death. Bonnell has filed several unsuccessful actions to have his sentence overturned, claiming he didn't commit the crime. Through changes in law and advances in technology, Bonnell was able to request DNA testing of crime scene evidence. In 2008, only one piece of evidence admitted at Bonnell's trial was available for DNA testing - Bonnell's maroon and gray ski jacket - and it revealed five small traces of the victim's blood on it. Bonnell then asserted that the state was withholding evidence collected from the night of the crime that could be tested.