News 09.06.16

Darryl Howard Exonerated After State Dismisses all Charges

By Ariana Costakes

Prosecutors in Durham, North Carolina dismissed all charges against Innocence Project client Darryl Howard on Friday, officially exonerating him of the double-murder for which he served 24 years in prison.

Judge Orlando Hudson vacated Howard’s conviction on Wednesday and he was released from prison after two and a half days of evidentiary hearings at which the Innocence Project and co-counsel Jim P. Cooney III presented DNA evidence excluding Howard from the crime.

Innocence Project Staff Attorney Seema Saifee attributed the District Attorney’s decision not to retry Howard to the strength of the DNA evidence, which also linked to two other individuals to the crime.

“The prosecution realized we had powerful proof of Darryl’s innocence and it would never win at a re-trial,” Saifee said.

Howard is now eligible for compensation under North Carolina’s wrongful conviction compensation statute. Exonerees in the state are eligible for $50,000 per year of wrongful incarceration, with a cap of $750,000.

Judge Hudson also vacated Howard’s conviction in 2014, but the state appealed and blocked his release on bond pending the appellate court’s ruling.

While Howard languished in prison, his son died. Faced with no other recourse, Howard’s wife Nannie penned an op-ed in the News Observer, calling attention to the injustice of Howard’s incarceration and calling for his immediate release.

“Had Darryl been released when Judge Hudson overturned his convictions, his son might still be alive today,” she wrote. “A man who did nothing doesn’t deserve more time added onto what he’s already lost.”

“It is quite incredible that Darryl has maintained such a high degree of dignity throughout this nightmare,” Saifee said. “Justice came far too late. It has been an honor, not simply to have worked on Darryl’s case, but to have ever met him; such a caring, kind, thoughtful man who has been through an unimaginable hardship. I hope that he and Nannie can begin to re-build their lives together and with their families in freedom.”

Howard’s family has created a page to raise funds to support the exoneree in his new life: https://www.razoo.com/us/story/Darrylhoward. Anyone can contribute.
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Howard at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina

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Howard at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina

 

 

Related: North Carolina Judge Throws Out Darryl Howard’s Conviction, Orders Him Released Based on DNA Evidence Proving His Innocence; Durham DA Will Not Appeal Decision

 

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