Man Pardoned After Spending 22 Years In Prison For Murders He Didn’t Commit
A 58-year-old man who spent 22 years in prison for murders he did not commit has now been granted a pardon of innocence by a North Carolina governor.
Darryl Anthony Howard was wrongly convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree arson in 1995, following the apparent sexual assault and deaths of 29-year-old Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, in 1991.
Howard was sentenced to 80 years in prison, but in 2009 attorneys filed a motion on his behalf to request that the victims’ rape kits be tested for DNA.
Judge Orlando Hudson threw out Howard’s sentence in 2014, saying the prosecutor had failed to share with defence attorneys a police memo and other evidence that indicated other suspects. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that Howard was released from prison, after Hudson ruled DNA evidence showed he didn’t participate in the rapes or the murders.
On Friday, April 30, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper granted a pardon of innocence, which read:
I, Roy Cooper, Governor of the State of North Carolina… by virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution of the State, do by these presents pardon the said Darryl Anthony Howard, it being a Pardon of Innocence.
In a news release discussing the pardon, Cooper acknowledged the importance in continuing efforts to ‘reform the justice system and to acknowledge wrongful convictions.’
Amelia Green, an attorney for Howard, commented:
We are pleased to have the State acknowledge what has been clear all along – Darryl Howard never should have spent a moment in prison for these horrifying crimes, let alone over 22 years.
Darryl is relieved to have this official recognition of his innocence as he moves forward to the next chapter in his life.
Having proved that he was wrongfully convicted, Howard can now file a claim for compensation for the years he spent in prison. People wrongly convicted of felonies in North Carolina can receive up to $50,000 per year they were in prison, CNN reports, though the compensation is capped at $750,000.
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