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Winston-Salem Paying Wrongfully Convicted Inmate $1.6M

The city of Winston-Salem will pay more than $1.6 million to a former inmate cleared by DNA evidence.

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Darryl Hunt
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The city of Winston-Salem will pay more than $1.6 million to a wrongfully convicted inmate cleared by DNA evidence.

The City Council announced the settlement Monday night at its regularly scheduled meeting.

Darryl Hunt spent 18 years in prison for the 1984 stabbing death of Deborah Sykes, a Winston-Salem woman who was raped and killed while walking to work downtown.

He was released in 2003, and Gov. Mike Easley pardoned him in 2004 after DNA testing identified another man, Willard Brown, in the case.

Hunt would receive about $90,000 for each year he spent in prison.

The state has paid Hunt $358,545 in restitution for being wrongfully jailed. By law, Hunt had three years to file a lawsuit after being exonerated.

Last week, Mayor Allen Joines said Hunt had settled with the city rather than file a civil rights lawsuit. The city had initially offered $500,000. Hunt's attorneys had asked for $2.6 million.

Hunt now lives in Winston-Salem and is part of a nonprofit organization called the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice, which according to its Web site, aims to educate the public about flaws in the criminal justice system and to advocate for those wrongfully jailed as a result of those flaws.