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Darryl Howard adjusting to married life, technology after decades in prison

Darryl and Nannie Howard are a bit like newlyweds.

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DURHAM, N.C. — Darryl and Nannie Howard are a bit like newlyweds.

The couple dated as teenagers and were married in 1998 while Darryl Howard was in prison. After a judge overturned his convictions last week and set him free, Howard was able to finally living under the same roof as his wife.

"She mean the world to me, she do. I'd give my life for her if I had to. I would," Howard said Tuesday. "If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I’m at."

"I'm his biggest advocate and fan," Nannie Howard said. "We fought so hard for this."

Howard, 54, was convicted in 1995 on two counts of second-degree murder for the 1991 deaths of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.

After a three-day hearing, Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson agreed with Howard's attorneys that there was reasonable doubt that Howard committed the crimes, citing DNA evidence that pointed to other men as the killers. Hudson ordered a new trial, but Durham County District Attorney Roger Echols dismissed the charges against Howard last Friday, saying there wasn't enough evidence to convict him.

"I knew they knew I didn’t do it," Howard said. "I’m not angry. I just thank God I’m out and I’m back with my wife, and we are moving forward in our life."

"At this point, the damage is done. Being angry isn’t going to fix it," Nannie Howard said.

Adjusting to home life is the first challenge, they said.

"Not having someone tell you what to do every five minutes, it’s a process I’m willing to go through," Darryl Howard said.

"He was used to just having that one little space that he worked from, ate from, stored personal effects," Nannie Howard said.

"I realize it’s real, but it’s still a little strange," she said with a laugh. "It’s just getting used to each other again."

Darryl Howard said he also needs to get up to speed on technology, from using a cellphone to a DVD player to even a remote control.

"The world is different. Not just the technology, the people is different. The way they do things is different," he said, adding that he finds people are meaner now than before he went to prison.

He said he spent the past few days visiting with his young grandchildren for the first time and seeing his aging mother, who now has Alzheimer's disease.

"He was just like a kid with her, just crying on her and hugging on her and kissing on her," Nannie Howard said. "She just kept saying, 'I love you, baby. I love you, baby.'"

During his two decades behind bars, however, his sister, two brothers, stepfather and others died.

"People die fast these days," he said.

He now plans to look for a job and is in the process of hiring an attorney to handle his efforts to win a pardon from the governor. The Howards said they also want to adopt children to try their hands at parenting together.

"I think we’re very happy. We’re blessed and fortunate in so many ways despite all of this," Nannie Howard said.



Julia Sims, Reporter
Richard Adkins, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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