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23-year-old Warren County murder case shifts to DNA fight

Published: Friday, April 01, 2016 @ 8:31 AM
Updated: Friday, April 01, 2016 @ 11:21 AM
By: Lawrence Budd - Staff Writer

Defense lawyers want to exclude new DNA tests that could be a major break in a 23-year-old murder case in Warren County.

Lawyers for Sam Y. Perone, the Arizona man arrested last year on the 23rd anniversary of the death of a rival furniture salesman, are urging Judge Donald Oda II to suppress results of DNA tests reported on March 1.

Perone’s lawyers say the new tests are “alleged to be inculpatory,” meaning possibly of use in establishing his guilt. They moved to suppress them in part because the tests used up all of the remaining DNA, according to a motion filed in Warren County Common Pleas Court.

“The prior tests were not inculpatory, and the evidence has totally been consumed at this point,” Rob Kaufman wrote in the motion.

This leaves the defense team no opportunity to do their own tests and violates Perone’s right to a fair trial, Kaufman said in the March 24 motion.

Even if Oda finds the new tests only “potentially useful,” Kaufman claimed that, by using up all the DNA, prosecutors acted in “bad faith.”

Perone is accused of murdering Richard “Dick” Woods, 41, of Dublin, Ohio, on Oct. 8. 1992.

Perone and his wife told officials they last saw Woods between 6:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. on the day Woods was killed. Both denied any involvement in Woods’ death.

Woods’ Lexis was found by a Pinkerton agent the next day off Interstate 71, but his body, with gunshot wounds to the head, was not found until Nov. 9, 1992, in a nearby ravine.

The case was investigated by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and federal agents, and later taken up by a cold-case team.

In 2014, the sheriff’s office issued a press release indicating investigators were returning to the spot on Middleboro Road in Washington Twp., Warren County, where the body was found.

Perone, 67, owned a furniture store in the Colony Square shopping center in Lebanon, but was living in Desert Hills, Ariz., at the time of his arrest.

Authorities say they believe Woods was fatally shot in the head in the back of the store, Just Living Rooms. Blood was found on a square of carpet taken from the store.

A UPS shipping outlet is now in the space.

Perone faces a single count of murder. He remains in the Warren County Jail in Lebanon on $750,000 cash bond.

On Tuesday, Oda ordered prosecutors to provide Perone’s lawyers with a complete file from the regional crime lab.

Another motion hearing is scheduled on April 20 and motion hearing and conference with the court on June 9, prior to a two-week trial scheduled to begin on June 20.