Killer wants a new trial

WARREN – Attorneys for death row inmate Danny Lee Hill want a federal appellate court to appoint new counsel to retry his murder case because they purportedly found new evidence – a dental expert to challenge that Hill was the attacker who left bite marks on his young victim.

Details of Hill’s new claim are unclear since the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals sealed those written arguments for the time being.

But a more recent answer to the claims by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office remain unsealed and shed light on the convicted murderer’s claim. Federal appellate judges haven’t made a decision on the request to also seal the response by assistant attorney general Stephen E. Maher. Maher argues in his response that ”Hill’s recent expert report is newly created, not newly discovered.”

Hill, now 47, was 18 years old when he was convicted of raping, torturing and murdering 12-year-old Raymond Fife in a field on Warren’s southwest side in 1985. He was sentenced to death in February 1986 after a trial before a three-judge panel.

A 17-year-old co-defendant, Timothy Combs, was convicted later and sentenced to life in prison since he was a juvenile at the time.

Evidence surrounding the torture claim included a dental expert for the prosecution who testified that Hill’s teeth marks were found on Fife’s penis. A defense dental expert told a jury that either Hill or Combs or both could have left some of the marks, but one mark was most likely left by Hill.

Maher also points out to the appellate court that the role of the bite mark evidence is grossly distorted since the bite marks had nothing to do with the cause of death in the case.

”Hypothetical exoneratino of Hill as the person who inflicted the bite marks would not absolve him of murder,” Maher wrote.

He pointed out that cardiorespiratory arrest secondary to asphyxiation, subdural hematoma and multiple trauma was the cause of death and Raymond Fife was strangled with his own underwear and also set on fire, resulting in an aggravated arson charge.

Hill also is appealing a claim that he is mentally retarded and unfit for execution and still pending is a claim that he was coerced into confessing by a police detective.