Authorities: Darryl Hunt shot himself
Posted March 16
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Police said Wednesday that Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly two decades in prison for a murder he didn't commit, killed himself in Winston-Salem over the weekend.
Hunt was found dead inside a car on University Parkway, near the Wake Forest University campus, early Sunday.
Winston-Salem police said a handgun was found near Hunt's body, and an autopsy determined that he died of a single gunshot wound to the torso. Because the car was locked and there was no evidence of a struggle inside or near the car, investigators concluded that Hunt committed suicide.
Friends said Hunt had been depressed after being diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago and had recently gotten divorced.
Police on Saturday issued a missing person notice for Hunt, who suffered from a medical condition that required treatment and at that point had not been seen for nine days.
After 19 years in prison, Hunt was exonerated in February 2004 after DNA evidence led police to Willard Brown, who confessed to killing a Winston-Salem newspaper editor. Hunt was later pardoned by Gov. Mike Easley and was awarded a settlement of more than $1.6 million in 2007. He went on to found the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, an advocacy group for the wrongfully convicted, and often spoke out publicly against the death penalty.