Darryl Howard to be released months after murder convictions vacated

ablythe@newsobserver.comJuly 15, 2014 

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Darryl Howard, left, happily shakes hands with Innocence Project attorney James Cooney III, right, as Howard entered Durham Superior Court Friday morning, July 11, 2014. Presiding Judge Orlando Hudson said he intends to free the 52 year old Howard on unsecured bond unless he is blocked in the state appeals court. Hudson ordered a new trial for Howard after he found no physical evidence connecting Howard to the deaths of a mother and daughter in 1991 for which he has served 20 years in prison.

HARRY LYNCH — hlynch@newsobserver.com Buy Photo

— Darryl Anthony Howard, the North Carolina prison inmate who buried his head in his hands 19 years ago in a Durham courtroom and cried out that he had not committed the two murders and arson of which he had been convicted, will be released from prison.

The N.C. Court of Appeals lifted a stay on Tuesday that was keeping the 52-year-old man behind bars while prosecutors fight a May ruling vacating his 1993 verdicts.

Howard’s release is expected later this week.

In May, amid contentions of prosecutorial and police misconduct, Judge Orlando Hudson vacated two second-degree murder verdicts and an arson conviction that imprisoned Howard for crimes he maintains he did not do.

The Durham district attorney’s office announced their intentions to appeal that ruling and asked the N.C. Appeals Court to keep Howard in prison while their appeal was weighed.

On Friday, attorneys from the Innocence Project asked that Howard be released from prison during the appeals process.

Hudson, the chief resident Superior Court judge in Durham, said he planned to grant bail and offered harsh words for the prosecutors who brought the case against Howard 19 years ago.

Hudson described the case as one of the most “horrendous” prosecutions he had seen in his 34 years on the bench.

Mike Nifong, the former district attorney who was disbarred for his handling of the Duke lacrosse case, was the prosecutor in the Howard case.

Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1

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