NC Supreme Court temporarily blocks bond for Durham man convicted of double murder
Posted July 16, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — The North Carolina Supreme Court is temporarily blocking a judge from granting bond to a man awaiting retrial in a 22-year-old double murder case in Durham.
James Cooney, an attorney representing Darryl Anthony Howard, said Wednesday evening that the order is to give the court time to review a petition from the state asking that Howard remain in prison, where he has served 20 years of an 80-year sentence.
The 52-year-old was found guilty in 1995 of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the deaths of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, who were found in their burning Durham home on Nov. 27, 1991.
Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson ordered a new trial for Howard in May after finding that a former Durham prosecutor and a police detective allegedly withheld evidence that could have cleared Howard.
The state Attorney General's Office petitioned the Supreme Court Wednesday morning, a day after the North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected a request blocking bail for Howard.
Durham prosecutors have said that he is a threat to the community, and they want him to stay in prison until the case is resolved.
Howard's attorneys, who had hoped he would be released by the end of the week, say he should be allowed to leave prison and be reunited with his family until his case goes to trial again.
"Put bluntly, the state has punished Mr. Howard for 20 years for murders that he always denied and after a trial at which his due process rights were violated and which scientific and other evidence now shows that he did not commit," defense attorneys said in court documents filed Wednesday. "The status quo that the state seeks to preserve is not its right to control Mr. Howard, but its desire to keep punishing him regardless of the Superior Court's Order."
Among the evidence that Howard's attorneys say proves their client is innocent is a police memo from four days after the crimes that contradicted the lead detective's claim at trial that he never suspected the murders involved sexual assault.
DNA from rape kits performed on both victims also excluded Howard as a match, and new testing in recent years found samples from the mother's rape kit matched the DNA of a convicted felon with a history of assaulting women.