Brice Brenneman: Strange case of Dr. Wine just got stranger

In 2011 Darien Harris, an 18-year-old Chicago resident, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 76 years in prison. A few years after his conviction, it was discovered that the eyewitness who identified him as the shooter was legally blind and that his testimony had been false. Christmas week of 2023, Darien Harris was released from prison after serving 12 years for a crime he did not commit.

The authorities in Chicago, when they realized that the evidence they had used to gain a conviction was false, did the right thing, admitted their mistake and released an innocent man. Dr. Doug Wine, a former optometrist in St. Marys, is still waiting for a similar admission and for justice in Auglaize County.

I wrote the book “The Strange Case of Dr. Wine” to show how a man who was 100% innocent had been wrongfully convicted of sexually assaulting his mother-in-law. The equivalent of the blind eyewitness in the Dr. Wine case is Brad Kelly (not the Lima attorney), a polygraph examiner who showed up at a Bellefontaine motel on Nov. 19, 2010, with a non-functioning, broken polygraph machine and pretended to give an exam to Dr. Wine. Much of my book (available on eBay) explains how this bogus exam completely fooled the sheriff’s department and was the main evidence used by Prosecutor Ed Pierce at the trial.

Recent events indicate that rather than admitting their errors, Auglaize officials are digging in their heels.

Like the Harris case, it has now been 12 years since Dr. Wine was convicted of a crime he did not commit. Ohio allows misdemeanor sex offenders to have their names removed from the sex offender registry if they do not reoffend for 10 years. Dr. Wine applied to have his name removed.

Now residing in Arizona, Dr. Wine was required to make several flights to Ohio to receive the required counseling before he could apply. He met for 15 hours with Dr. Scott Delong, a psychiatrist in Greenville. Delong had previously counseled six people in Dr. Wine’s position, and all had had their names removed. Based on his testing and interaction with Dr. Wine, Dr. Delong submitted a report to Auglaize County recommending that Dr. Wine’s name be removed from the registry.

Dr. Wine wasted two trips to Ohio from Arizona during the first half of 2023 when hearings for his case were postponed at the last minute. The second one was postponed when Judge Frederick Pepple informed Dr. Wine’s attorney that the judge is required to receive a report from the county probation office before acting to remove someone from the sex offender registry. Judge Pepple had neglected to do so.

A third hearing was scheduled for late October. This gave Judge Pepple time to get his “report” from the probation department. But Dr. Wine had never been on probation. A “ghost” was found who submitted a report to Judge Pepple. This ghost writer never contacted Dr. Wine, his wife, his two daughters or anyone else in Dr. Wine’s circle of contacts.

For the last 10 years, just like the first 50, Dr. Wine has led an exemplary life, in line with his strong Nazarene Christian faith. Nevertheless, Judge Pepple cited this “report” as evidence that Dr. Wine is a threat to re-offend, canceled the hearing and ended Dr. Wine’s year-long quest to be taken off the sex offender registry. What could possibly be in this report?

Dr. Ron Delong had spent 15 hours counseling and testing Dr. Wine. He submitted a professional report, which Judge Pepple chose to ignore. Instead, the same judge who had allowed bogus polygraph evidence to contaminate the original trial chose a bogus report from someone who had not spent one second with Dr. Wine.

Where is justice?

Brice Brenneman is a retired social studies teacher from St. Marys and the author of “The Strange Case of Dr. Wine.” His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News.