DDC Forensics is Celebrated as Key Contributor to OIP’s Success
DNA Diagnostics Forensics, a Division of DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC), one of the world’s largest DNA testing companies, was honored at Ohio Innocence Project’s (OIP) tenth Anniversary Gala, celebrating freedom for those exonerated, and the organizations that have contributed to the effort. Approximately 400 supporters attended the event held Saturday, October 25, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati—raising over $150,000 to OIP’s cause. Cincinnati’s Mayor John Cranley, and co-founder of OIP, was the master of ceremonies and presided over the event; and exonerated citizen, Robert McClendon, awarded DDC’s President and CEO, Peter Vitulli with the honor on behalf of the company. To date, DDC’s testing for OIP includes more than 30 cases, resulting in the exonerations of Ohio residents, Robert Towler, Robert McClendon, Douglas Prade and Dewey Jones. Working with other Innocence Projects on post-conviction cases throughout the United States, DDC Forensics has provided DNA testing that resulted in the exonerations of Florida citizens James Bains, Derrick Williams and Cheydrick Britt, and Kentucky Innocence Project client, Kerry Porter.
During the event, Mayor Cranley lauded DDC as “an exceptional organization that has risen to the occasion in OIP’s fight for justice. In 2005, DDC offered pro bono DNA testing on all OIP casework, and today, that charitable donation of time, staffing, and resources is still in effect. No other lab in the country has extended this amount of good will to our organization, and for that we will be forever grateful to DDC.” In addition, each year DDC welcomes the University of Cincinnati College of Law professors, staff attorneys, and students to its Fairfield, Ohio laboratory and provides training in forensic DNA and legal applications in post-conviction cases.
After the ceremony, DDC’s Peter Vitulli looked back at the event and OIP’s history, stating “OIP’s tireless work to pass legislation to reduce wrongful convictions has made Ohio a national model for other states and countries to enact reforms to fight the problem of wrongful convictions. On behalf of my staff at DDC, it was an honor to receive this award from the OIP, and it was especially poignant that exonerated citizen, Robert McClendon, recited his poem, “Hello Truth” before presenting me with the award. Without a doubt every member of my team is proud to be working with the OIP, knowing that our efforts are helping to change people’s lives to secure justice. We look forward to continuing our work with the OIP for many years to come.”
OIP has been a role model to other innocence projects across the country, as the agency wrote and promoted Ohio Senate Bill 77, aimed at reducing wrongful convictions—with reforms in eyewitness identification procedures, police interrogation practices, expanded access to DNA testing and mandate crime scene DNA evidence preservation. SB 77 became law in July, 2010 and was called by the legislature ‘the most important piece of criminal justice legislation in Ohio in a century, thus becoming the model for national innocence reform.’