RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has pardoned a Durham man who was released from prison in 2016 after his double-murder conviction was overturned.
Darryl Howard had spent more than 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. A judge overturned his conviction in 2016.
Cooper’s office says Howard’s pardon application was thoroughly reviewed and the pardon makes him eligible to file a claim under a North Carolina law that allows compensation to persons wrongly convicted of felonies.
“It is important to continue our efforts to reform the justice system and to acknowledge wrongful convictions,” said Cooper. “After carefully reviewing Darryl Anthony Howard’s case, I am granting him this Pardon of Innocence.”
He was sentenced to 80 years in prison in 1995 after being convicted in the strangling of 29-year-old Doris Washington and her daughter, 13-year-old Nishonda. Both were sexually assaulted, and their apartment was burned. Witnesses who lived in the same housing project testified they saw Howard at the crime scene.
Later DNA testing of samples taken from the two bodies showed sperm left by a convicted felon who has a history of drug dealing and violence against women, Howard’s attorneys from the New York-based Innocence Project said in court filings.
A judge ruled that DNA evidence showed Howard didn’t participate in the rape and murder
His attorneys argued that Durham County DA at the time Mike Nifong failed to share with defense attorneys a police memo and other evidence that pointed to suspects other than Howard.