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NC Appeals Court clears double-murder convict for bail

Posted July 15, 2014

— The North Carolina Court of Appeals on Tuesday rejected a motion by Durham prosecutors to block bail for a man who has spent nearly 20 years in prison for a double-murder conviction marked by misconduct from Durham police and the prosecutor disbarred over the Duke lacrosse case.

The ruling clears the way for Darryl Anthony Howard, 52, to be released while he waits for prosecutors to decide whether to try him a second time.

That could happen by the end of the week, his attorney, Jim Cooney said Tuesday, and conditions of his release would likely include electronic monitoring, random drug testing and weekly check-ins with a probation officer.

"We're gratified that after 20 years in prison for crimes he didn't commit, Mr. Howard will have a chance to breathe clean air, hold his grandchildren and hug his wife," Cooney said.

Howard was sentenced to 80 years in prison after a jury, in 1995, found him guilty of two counts of second-degree murder in the 1991 drug-related deaths of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda Washington.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson, however, ordered a new trial in May, after finding that former Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong and a police detective allegedly withheld evidence that could have cleared Howard.

That evidence included a police memo from four days after the murders that contradicted the lead detective's claim 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 Doris Washington’s rape kit matched the DNA of a convicted felon with a history of assaulting women.

During a hearing last week, Hudson said Howard's conviction is one of the "most horrendous prosecutions" he has seen during his 34-year career as a judge.

Nifong made national headlines in 2006 for prosecuting three Duke lacrosse players falsely accused of raping a woman. He was disbarred a year later for his handling of the case and was later found in contempt for making false statements to a judge.


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  • WRAL_USER Jul 15, 2014

    Push for release with NO conditions. Sue the State and City, and prosecute Nifong and all involved in the cover up... 20 YEARS!!!

  • jonara Jul 15, 2014

    "Makes you wonder just how many people Mike Nifong screwed over throughout the years.

    — Posted by sjb2k1

    DNA testing has proved that about 1/3 of the people on death row are innocent.
    Yay justice sytem!
    -rolls eyes-

  • stymieindurham Jul 15, 2014

    I have mixed emotions about this one. If he's not guilty by reason of DNA, there must have been some typr of reasonable evidence presented to a jury of "12" people!!! Surely they weren't blind and deaf. Just because Nifong didn't make the court aware of the DNA doesn't mean this guy isn't culpable in some other way. Don't forget, two women are dead at the hands of "someone"!!!

  • less_govt_is_better_govt Jul 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    I second that statement.

    In wake county from 2002 through 2010 the wake county sheriff let his deputies play the if it doesn't make it on any paper it did not happen game and the wake DA played along

  • recontwice Jul 15, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Should make you wonder how many people are in this situation nationwide since this is a common practice amongst LEO and DAs!

  • Denise Martin Jul 15, 2014
    user avatar

    I suggest Mr Howard sue the state of NC and then NC take Nifong to court and make him pay for it. How many others will end this way?

  • dollibug Jul 15, 2014

    With holding evidence must be a *common thing* with some of these people who are suppose to enforce and uphold the laws. It is interesting that much of the time, the evidence that they hide could have/should have/would have been in the favor of the accused NOT being guilty. One has to wonder, is this what is taught and learned in law schools OR do they just decide to do it themselves?

  • iron fist Jul 15, 2014

    Nifong is not the only one prosecute someone later to found not guilty. And if I read this article correctly Howard hasn't been found not guilty yet. The posters on here are a bad or worse than they think Nifong is. The poster convict without a trial, judge or jury.

  • txson42 Jul 15, 2014

    Nifong should be liable for the term of every wrongfully convicted person he ever prosecuted. That should give him a sentence of a few thousand years.

  • sjb2k1 Jul 15, 2014

    Makes you wonder just how many people Mike Nifong screwed over throughout the years.