Saturday, April 11, 2015

Darryl Howard: North Carolina: Appeals court hears of semen belonging to another man with a long criminal history - and a "chilling" newly discovered memo which was not revealed by the police to the defence. Is this enough in North Carolina to exonerate Howard and free him from his 80 year sentence? Indy Week;

STORY:  "Court of Appeals hears arguments in Darryl Howard case," by John H Tucker, published by Indy Week on April 8, 2015.

GIST: "In 1991, Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter Nishonda were murdered in their Durham apartment, leading to the conviction and 80-year sentence of a petty criminal named Darryl Howard. The bodies were discovered in the nude; Doris had lacerations in her vagina, sustained shortly before her murder, and Nishonda had semen that didn't belong to Howard in her anus. Twenty years later, DNA testing discovered new evidence: semen in Doris' vagina. This semen, too, did not belong to Howard, but to another man with a long criminal history. If this new evidence were presented at trial, would the jury have reached a different verdict? That was a major point of debate during this morning's oral arguments at the North Carolina Court of Appeals in the case of State v. Howard. The case gained national attention following a ruling last May by Durham's senior resident superior court judge, Orlando Hudson Jr. Without holding an evidentiary hearing, Hudson ordered a new trial for Howard, claiming that prosecutor Michael Nifong failed to disclose evidence that could have led to Howard's acquittal.........In the Raleigh courtroom today, the two sides squared off over whether the knowledge of the semen in Doris' vagina would have produced a different verdict. Assistant Attorney General Mary Carla Babb, who represented the Durham District Attorney's Office, argued that it doesn't change anything about Nifong's presentation of the facts......... Howard's appellate attorney, Jim Cooney, countered that the new DNA findings proved a rape had occurred. "At the time of the trial, no one knew Doris had semen in her vagina," Cooney argued. "Now we have the semen of a convicted felon that is left in bloody discharge shortly before this woman dies of a beating, that's not Mr. Howard's. It is certainly consistent with some sexual contact of some kind, and the state of North Carolina says it doesn't mean anything?" "We literally have a fingerprint at the scene that not only identifies [the convicted felon] specifically, connects him to the victim, but connects him to the victim shortly before she dies," Cooney added. "I can't think of any more compelling evidence than that.".........Another issue at play before the Court of Appeals was a police memo recently discovered by Howard's post-conviction attorneys. The memo revealed that shortly after the murders, an anonymous tipster told Durham police that Doris and Nishonda had been raped and murdered by a gang to whom Doris owed drug money. A handwritten note scrawled on the memo by a police captain said: "There may be something to this. I don't remember any public info on the rape." Of the sperm found in Nishonda's rectum, the captain added: "whoever did this had anal intercourse w/ her."  The memo was never disclosed to Howard's defense attorney. The newly discovered memo is "chilling," said Cooney, suggesting that Nifong secretly knew about it, allowed the lead police investigator to commit perjury by testifying that he never considered sexual assault as a factor in the murder, and repeated the detective's perjurious statement in his closing argument. "The fact that [the detective] can get up there and say—after having been given a note by an informant saying there was a rape, and an instruction by his captain to look into this because they hadn't told anyone about the rape—that they never suspected it was rape was a fundamentally misleading statement," said Cooney. It "was critical to the case because Mr. Nifong admitted in his closing argument that if there's a sexual assault, then Mr. Howard didn't do it." "The informant describes exactly what happened before these murders as if the informant was there," he added.

The entire story can be found at:

The entire story can be found at:


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