Local News

Prosecutor, detective misconduct leads to new trial in 1991 Durham double murder

Posted May 27, 2014
Updated May 28, 2014

— A Durham judge on Tuesday ordered a new trial for a man convicted in the 1991 murders of a woman and her daughter due to misconduct by a Durham police detective and the prosecuting assistant district attorney.

Darryl Howard is serving 80 years in prison for the killings of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, inside their apartment in the now-defunct Few Gardens public housing community.

DNA from rape kits performed on both women excluded Howard as a match. During Howard’s trial in 1995, Durham police detective D.L. Dowdy said he never suspected the murders involved sexual assault, a claim then-assistant district attorney Mike Nifong repeated to the jury.

But a police memo uncovered by researchers with the Innocence Project contradicted those claims. In addition, new DNA tests showed DNA samples from Doris Washington’s rape kit matched a convicted felon with a history of assaulting women.

Nifong later made national headlines for prosecuting three Duke University lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a woman. He was disbarred in 2007 for his handling of the case and later found in contempt for making false statements to a judge.

Durham Senior Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson vacated Howard’s convictions. The state has 30 days to appeal Hudson’s ruling.


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  • Stilllearnin May 29, 2014

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    But you trust Obama, go figure!

  • Wake1 May 28, 2014

    Where is Nifong these days?

  • disgusted2010 May 28, 2014

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    Do you have proof of your accusations? OR is this just more of the liberal agenda, push your beliefs on others by whatever means necessary.

  • Denise Martin May 28, 2014
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  • sjb2k1 May 28, 2014

    The state would be foolish to try this man again.

  • Naysayer May 28, 2014

    Mike Nifong, reminder of the NC Dem political machine at it's worst.

  • jackaroe123 May 28, 2014

    If the Internet had existed in 1991, I'm sure we would have had many posters here commenting on what a waste of tax dollars it was to imprison Mr. Howard, how he should have been executed outside the courthouse within minutes of the verdict, etc.

  • dollibug May 28, 2014

    Another prime example of CORRUPTION AND COVER UP.....it is interesting that it took the INNOCENCE PROJECT to *uncover and discover* what someone who is supposed to uphold and enforce the LAWS, actually HID from the jurors and court. And to think this is NOT the first time something like this has happened in NC. Things are REVEALED when outside people start *reviewing what actually took place*.

  • Kristin Byrne May 28, 2014
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    You can't blame the jury for rendering a verdict using the information that was provided to them. It's ridiculous to hold them responsible. Their verdict is only as good as the evidence provided, so blame those who provided faulty evidence.

  • Drew Savicki May 28, 2014
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    I hope Nifong is arrested and convicted. If Howard is acquitted, the original Jury should be held responsible too. Regardless if they believed what Nifong said, they still wrongly sent a man to prison and that shouldn't be tolerated. Nifong, the police involved, and the jury should all face the same sentence Howard did.