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Man sues Durham DA, police for false prosecution

Posted September 23, 2011

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— A Durham man who was convicted of breaking into a home in the Trinity Park neighborhood in 2002 filed suit Thursday against Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline, the city and several current and former members of the police department.

Frankie Washington alleges that investigators ignored evidence that another man, who was convicted of a series of rapes in the neighborhood, committed the crime. He also maintained that Cline and others failed to test evidence that would have proved his innocence and let him languish in jail for more than four years while awaiting trial.

Washington was convicted based on witness testimony, according to the suit, but the state Court of Appeals overturned the convictions, ruling that prosecutors violated his guarantee to a speedy trial.

In addition to unspecified monetary damages, Washington is seeking a court order to appoint an independent monitor to review the investigative policies of the police department for 10 years and a three-person committee to hear citizen complaints against the department.


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  • maz6123 Sep 23, 2011

    The laws need to be changed...the prosecutors and investigators need to be charged if they are found to have messed up. Hundreds of cases nationwide. The people responsible for things like this need to be sure enough that they are willing to put their own freedom on the line.

  • ericevenson Sep 23, 2011

    Has the N&O considered a story on the diminishing resources of prosecutors? Hundreds of cases, many complex, to be handled daily by fewer and fewer prosecutors. Thus, a greater need to reduce charges by plea bargains. If so, are victims receiving the wrong end of the stick? Just a little balance would be fair.

  • jackcdneh1017 Sep 23, 2011

    The sad part of this is that this prosecutor, the law enforcement officers and the judge in this case are immune from criminal prosecution in North Carolina even though they broke numerous laws depriving Mr. Washington of four years of his freedom. Only when state officials pay the price will the justice system in the state get cleaned up. Wrongful conviction in NC? Happens daily. Criminals go free, Innocents go to prison. Feel safe with this system? Rise up people!

  • Hater like Darth Vader Sep 23, 2011

    Heck yeah, stick it to the man my brother!

  • wildcat Sep 23, 2011

    good for him. they should have went after the real criminal.

  • u stand corrected Sep 23, 2011

    Does this surprise anyone really? 4 years?

  • hp277 Sep 23, 2011

    The process the Durham Police used to ID him in the first place was badly flawed.

    He was picked up by the DPD in the neighborhood of the crime, which was also the neighborhood where he lived. Instead of putting him in a lineup, the DPD had the victim look at him sitting in the back of a police car 20 feet away and decide if he was the guy.

    The DPD may has well have said 'This is the guy, right?'

    He was jailed for 4 years based on that ID, since no evidence tied him to the crime. That's just wrong.

  • sjb2k1 Sep 23, 2011

    four years to go to trial? that's messed up.

  • factsfirstopinionlater Sep 23, 2011

    Okay...to clear up a few things. Yes, this is the same Mr. Washington who did not come to court for the verdict. He did not "escape" as he was, at that point, no longer in custody. As far as the DNA, it has not yet been matched to anyone. That is part of his complaint (that the DA refuses to have it tested against the DNA of an individual known to commit this type offense in that area during the same time period.)

    No matter what his prior record, we are all afforded the same rights. There is no constitutional exception for people with records. If the behavior on the part of the DA and investigators is found to be outside the bounds, I doubt the "he has a record" argument will be available to them.

  • Con Amor brings luv and laughter Sep 23, 2011

    I imagine I would lose my job, my home, everything I own if I were locked up and not able to pay my bills for 4 months, more less 4 years! If this guy didnt do it, then it is a SHAME that he spent so long in jail. Even if he DID do it, it shouldnt take 4 years to go to trial. Though in some cases, even the admited guilty, are let right back onto the streets with a slap on the wrist, or probation when they do go to court. Those are the cases that should be prolonged, so that the admitted guilty ones can at least feel a few days behind bars.