Danny Lee Hill wants new trial 30 years after murder of Warren b - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Danny Lee Hill wants new trial 30 years after murder of Warren boy scout

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Danny Lee Hill Danny Lee Hill
WARREN, Ohio -

More than thirty years after a 12-year-old boy scout was tortured, raped and murdered in Warren, the story continues making news headlines.

The man on Ohio's death row for the crime asked a judge on Monday for permission to file for another trial for the kidnapping, rape and murder of Raymond Fife in 1985.

The attorney for 48-year-old Danny Lee Hill claims that new evidence has been uncovered that would impact Hill's right to a fair trial. 

Two witnesses took the stand, including a forensic expert specializing in reviewing bites marks-- injuries that were taken into account in Hill's 1986 conviction. 

Dr. Franklin Wright says the criteria for identifying and analyzing bite marks changed in 2013 and should be considered.

The state questions the timing of the request to take this case back to court and whether or not any further litigation would result in a different outcome. 

"That's what this case is about, giving new testimony about a case that was concluded in the public and the system needs to have some continuity and end to the litigation," Dennis Watkins said, Trumbull County prosecutor.

After Monday's hearing, a visiting judge said he would rule in ten days on whether or not Hill can file a motion for another trial.

In 10 days the state can file a request for another hearing, otherwise Presiding Judge Patricia Cosgrove will issue her ruling.

BackgroundCaution: Some readers may find some details the following court record account disturbing.

According to court records, on September 10, 1985, at approximately 5:15 p.m., Raymond Fife left home on his bicycle to visit a friend, Billy Simmons.

After learning that the twelve-year-old had not arrived at his friend's home by 5:50 p.m., Fife's family began searching for him.

Raymond Fife's father found his son more than four hours later in a wooded field behind the Valu-King supermarket on Palmyra road.

The child was naked and appeared to have been severely beaten and his face was burned. Raymond's underwear was found tied around his neck and appeared to have been lit on fire.

Raymond died in the hospital two days later.

The coroner, who ruled Raymond's death a homicide, testified during the trial that the victim had been choked and had a hemorrhage in his brain. The coroner also said that Fife sustained several burns, damage to his rectal-bladder area and bite marks on his penis.

Through testimony from three Warren Western Reserve High School Students, the jury learned that Danny Lee Hill and Timothy Combs were in the area of the Valu-King and the bike trails on the evening Raymond Fife was assaulted. One of the students had also seen Fife riding his bike in the store parking lot.

A student who said he saw Combs on the trail also said he heard a child's scream. Another student says he saw Combs pulling up the zipper of his blue jeans.

Two days after Fife was found, Danny Lee Hill, who was 18-years-old at the time, went to the Warren Police Station to inquire about a $5,000 reward that was being offered for information concerning the murder.

According to Police Sergeant Thomas Stewart, Hill told him that he had just seen some he knew riding Fife's bike. When Stewart asked Hill how he knew the bike belonged to Fife, Hill replied, "I know it is."

Sergeant Stewart testified that during their conversation, it became apparent that Hill knew a lot about the bike and the underwear that was found around Fife's neck.

On the following Monday, September 16, Hill went to the police station accompanied by his uncle, Warren Police Detective Morris Hill.

Police say after waiving his Miranda rights, Danny Lee Hill admitted on audio and video tape that he was present during the beating and sexual assault of Raymond Fife, but that Timothy Combs did everything to the victim.

Combs was eventually convicted of felonious sexual penetration, arson, rape, kidnapping and aggravated murder.

Since Combs was 17-years-old at the time of the crime, he was not eligible for the death penalty and is serving a life sentence. He will be eligible for his first parole hearing in 2049.

Hill was convicted on the same charges, but since he was18-years-old at the time Fife was assaulted, he was sentenced to death.

Hill has filed several unsuccessful appeals, the most notable of which was a claim that he is mentally retarded and should not be subect to the death penalty.

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