New Evidence Could Free North Carolina Man



A North Carolina man who has spent nearly 17 years in prison for a crime he says he didn’t commit could be freed Friday afternoon if a judge releases him and orders a new trial.
LaMonte Armstrong was convicted of the 1988 murder of one of his former professors at North Carolina A&T State University and sentenced to life in prison in 1995. At a hearing at the Guilford County Courthouse today, Armstrong’s attorneys and an assistant district attorney will recommend his release based on evidence that implicates a convicted murderer. Investigators identified a palm print belonging to another suspect, Christopher Caviness, at the victim’s home near where the body was discovered. Caviness, who was convicted of murdering his father in 1989, died in a traffic accident in 2010 after being released from prison. The Associated Press reports:

The print doesn’t prove Caviness’ guilt, but if jurors had known about the match, they probably wouldn’t have convicted Armstrong, Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Howard Neumann said.

Neumann said he expects the judge to vacate Armstrong’s conviction and release him from prison shortly after Friday’s hearing. Prosecutors don’t plan to seek bond guaranteeing Armstrong will appear for future court hearings, Neumann said.

No physical evidence linked Armstrong to the crime scene, just the testimonies of four convicted felons—one of whom claimed to be a witness to the murder and received a sentence of five years as an accessory to the murder. He has since recanted citing pressure from police. The other three informants claimed that Armstrong confessed to them.  Armstrong’s attorneys at the Duke Law Wrongful Convictions Clinic and the Duke Law Innocence Project said that prosecutors withheld information favorable to the defense.

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