Local News

Wrongly convicted man seeks settlement, pardon

Posted December 30, 2009 5:57 p.m. EST
Updated December 30, 2009 7:28 p.m. EST

— The family of a Durham man who spent nearly a third of his life in prison after being wrongly convicted of a crime wants Gov. Beverly Perdue to pardon him and Durham to pay for his arrest.

Erick Daniels was convicted in December 2001 of robbing a house on North Hoover Street. Although he was 15 at the time, he was tried as an adult and sent to prison because he already had an extensive juvenile record.

Daniels was released in September 2008 after a Superior Court judge ruled that the case against him was flawed. Police presented a witness with a middle school yearbook to use for a photo lineup.

His family now wants to reach a financial settlement with the city to avoid filing a wrongful arrest lawsuit. They also want Perdue to issue a formal pardon to clear his name.

"They knew my son was not a robber," said Karen Daniel, who charged her surname several years ago. "The city government has maliciously taken away my child's life."

Attorney Daron Satterfield said the family has obtained paperwork they believe proves Durham police and prosecutors also withheld evidence in the case that would have helped Daniels during his trial.

"We're not trying to lean on the city. We're trying to get the word out because, as stated, we want to ensure that no child in Durham has to endure what Erick endured," Satterfield said. "Nobody on this planet can give Erick those seven years back.. (Money is) the only way he can be wholly and fully compensated for the time he spent in jail. He can't get it back."

The Durham City Attorney's Office declined to comment Wednesday on Daniels' case or a potential lawsuit. Durham police also declined to comment.

The city is defending itself and the police department against a similar lawsuit filed by three former Duke University lacrosse players . They were charged in 2006 with sexually assaulting a stripper at a team party, but the charges were later dropped.

Daniels was arrested three weeks ago in Durham and charged with carrying a concealed weapon and drug possession. He's expected to be in court for that case in early January.