Local News

Another inmate accuses Durham prosecutors of misconduct

Posted August 12, 2014
Updated August 13, 2014

— A Durham man convicted 14 years ago of raping a young girl is seeking a new trial, alleging that Durham County prosecutors withheld evidence from his original defense attorney before his trial.

David Yearwood, 46, is serving a 31-year sentence in Harnett Correctional Institution on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, indecent liberties with a child and breaking and entering.

Yearwood has maintained he never attacked a 12-year-old girl in the old West Durham neighborhood, and his attorneys cite material from the files of former prosecutor Tracey Cline as evidence backing up Yearwood's claim.

A report from the State Bureau of Investigation showing hairs found at the scene didn't belong to Yearwood was never turned over to the defense before the 2000 trial, attorneys say.

His new defense team obtained access to Cline's files in 2011 under a judge's order.

Yearwood's case was among several that prompted a 2011 feud between Cline, who was then the district attorney, and Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson. Cline was removed from office in March 2012 after a judge found her accusations that Hudson was biased against her office detrimental to the justice system.

Assistant District Attorney Cindy Kenney said Tuesday that prosecutors handed over all necessary records to Yearwood's attorney in 2000.

Eric Preddy, a former Durham police officer, told Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson that he still remembers the young rape victim in the case, saying her pain made a major impact on him and other officers.

A hearing to determine whether Yearwood will win a new trial is expected at last two to three days, as witnesses testify about the details of the original case.

Yearwood is the latest inmate to allege misconduct by the Durham County District Attorney's Office.

Hudson four years ago granted a new trial to Derrick Michael Allen, ruling that prosecutors coerced a confession from him in the 1998 sex assault and murder of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter and that they then stopped DNA tests in the case because they believed the results might point to someone else.

Three months ago, Hudson threw out the convictions against Darryl Howard for the 1991 murders of a woman and her daughter. The judge ruled that DNA tests that didn't match Howard weren't disclosed to defense attorneys and that prosecutors misled jurors in saying that sex assault wasn't a motive in the killings. 


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  • Alexia Proper Aug 13, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    It's very hard to prove you did not do something when you did not do something. It is the responsibility of the state to somehow prove you did. To do that, they can use DNA, hair, etc.

    It would appear from the article that evidence that might show that somebody else did this was withheld from the defense team. So knowing there was a good possibility that this man did not commit the crime, the prosecutor shoved that under the rug and forged ahead. The same thing happened to the Duke lacrosse players.

  • dollibug Aug 13, 2014

    Expecting *JUSTICE* from any court room should always be *questioned these days*...when there are people who do NOT do their jobs in a *professional and lawful manner*....how can anyone expect *JUSTICE*...Corruption and Cover up is alive and kicking all over AMERICA.

  • 678devilish Aug 13, 2014

    If he has the proof that he did not do this. By all means it should be looked into. Don't want an innocent man spending time in prison. But the young girl knows and I do hope she is not lying about it.

  • A person Aug 13, 2014

    Cline got what she had coming to her. I would like to see her serve some time in prison for what she did to people for personal gain.

  • Edward Levy Aug 13, 2014
    user avatar

    WOW, There has to be a way, for those who do the dirty deed to innocent people, get to personally be libel. And face prison time
    at least the same amount of time that the innocent person has spent in prison

  • Kristin Byrne Aug 13, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Yes, that was a much more informative article. Here is the link for anyone you may be interested:


  • 68_dodge_polara Aug 13, 2014

    I give up expecting justice from the Durham County court system a long time ago.

  • Brandon White Aug 13, 2014
    user avatar

    If none of his hairs are at the scene, but someone else's was found, that screams reasonable doubt.

  • itsnotmeiswear Aug 13, 2014

    An April article from the N&O does a better jobs of detailing the issues regarding this case. It looks like a Cline setup from start to finish.

  • yankee1 Aug 12, 2014

    Not quite true! It's usually only the minorities in prison that are innocent and only there because of racist cops! Ask them. Thet'll tell you!