Innocence Commission Asked to Review Fayetteville Case
Posted March 31, 2008 4:46 p.m. EDT
Updated March 31, 2008 8:26 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — After 22 years in prison, a Fayetteville man is placing his hope for freedom in the hands of the state's Innocence Inquiry Commission.
Lee Wayne Hunt is serving two life sentences in prison for the 1984 slayings of Roland and Lisa Matthews. Hunt and his attorneys maintain he is innocent of the crimes.
The state Supreme Court in January refused to consider new evidence in the case. So, his lawyers, University of North Carolina law professors Rich Rosen and Kenneth Broun, have asked the Innocence Inquiry Commission to review his case.
The lawyers said they have two pieces of evidence to help exonerate Hunt, including the credibility of an FBI analysis that matched bullets found at the crime scene to those in a box Hunt owned.
The analysis was the only physical evidence connecting Hunt to the deaths, but "60 Minutes" reported last year that scientists now believe that kind of analysis is misleading and shouldn't be considered at trial.
Also, the attorney for Hunt's co-defendant said his client – who committed suicide in prison – confessed to being the sole killer.
Attorney Staples Hughes represented co-defendant Jerry Dale Cashwell. He said Cashwell told him in 1985 that he alone killed the Matthewses, but he waited to come forward until after Cashwell's death.
If the Innocence Inquiry Commission finds Hunt is innocent, it will send its recommendation to a three-judge panel that has the power to overturn convictions, set the case for re-trial or throw out charges altogether.
Since its inception, the commission has received 243 cases, most of which are challenging convictions for murder or sexual offense.