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NC Supreme Court temporarily blocks bond for Durham man convicted of double murder

Posted July 16

Darryl Anthony Howard, sits in a Durham County courtroom on July 11, 2014, during a hearing to determine if he should be granted bond while he awaits a retrial for the 1991 deaths of Doris Washington and her daughter, Nishonda.

— 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.

10 Comments

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  • dollibug Jul 17, 10:57 a.m.

    REALLY? Is this how our *wonderful Judicial System works*? They can do as they please, whether there is *evidence or not*? The man has *LOST* 20 years of his life anyway....so I guess another 2 years or so will NOT matter while he waits on the wheels of the justice system to continue spinning.

  • matt_wood Jul 17, 10:41 a.m.

    His original conviction has been overturned. Keeping him in jail now is essentially keeping him in jail without ever having been sentenced to jail.

  • zile1porkey Jul 17, 10:38 a.m.

    Yes keep him in jail the longer he sits there the more money we will have to pay him for this cover up he has lost 20 years of his life a couple of months doesn't matter I hope he sues and gets paid.

  • torchhappysean Jul 17, 10:12 a.m.

    I guess he doesn't rate the same as Mr. Peterson. Its all about the money and who you know....

  • Naysayer Jul 17, 9:58 a.m.

    This is a tough one indeed, but with the DNA evidence excluding Mr Howard, I would say he deserves to be released on bond. One thing is clear, Durham has a long way to go to restore confidence in their justice system, one thing after another over the past 20 years.

  • Deb1003 Jul 17, 9:36 a.m.

    Aren't all prisoners innocent of their crime(s)?

  • delilahk2000 Jul 17, 9:25 a.m.

    DA'S NEVER WANT TO ADMIT THEY ARE WRONG.....THEY COULD CARE LESS ABOUT THE TRUTH...TO THEM IT IS ALL ABOUT WINNING........IT IS AMAZING TO ME THAT EVERYONE BROUGHT BEFORE THEM IS GUILTY......THEY NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE...........

  • woodrowboyd5 Jul 16, 7:57 p.m.

    Always heard the lie you are inocent until proven guilty.
    If that were the case the jails would not be used to house people until they have been proven guilty.
    Now even when you are proven not guilty you still must spend the time.

    Do we really have the best court system in the world?

  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jul 16, 7:33 p.m.

    Keep the dude in jail...until the facts are PROVEN.

    — Posted by comitatus1

    -

    The facts already HAVE BEEN PROVEN.

    Not only does absolutely NONE of the DNA found match his, another murderer who used the same MO in his crime on another woman for the same reason admitted to doing this crime, PLUS - the DNA and hand/fingerprints found at the scene were found to belong to TWO other men.
    What else should be needed to deem this man is innocent, never should have been charged/convicted of this crime from the very beginning and never should have spend one day in prison for it?

  • tamcapwral Jul 16, 7:28 p.m.

    Keep the dude in jail...until the facts are PROVEN.

    — Posted by comitatus1

    Thankfully, that's not how our punishment system works yet.