Prosecutor, detective misconduct leads to new trial in 1991 Durham double murder
Posted May 27, 2014
Updated May 28, 2014
Durham, N.C. — 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.