Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bulletin: Darryl Howard: North Carolina; Innocence Project says evidence against this man serving 80 uears for double homicide and arson suggests that Prosecutor Mike Nifong allowed the lead detective to falsely testify. New DNA evidence points to two different men - neither of whom was Howard - as the real perpetrators of the crime. Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck says the evidence raises "deeply disturbing questions" about the lengths the state was willing to go to secure a conviction. (Must Read. HL);

RELEASE: "North Carolina man serving 80  years for double homicide and arson: Evidence strongly suggests Prosecutor  Mike Nifong, disbarred and held in contempt for his actions in the Duke Lacrosse case, allowed lead detective to falsely testify," as released by the Innocence Project on March 11, 2014.

GIST: "Sperm was found in the girl’s anus and injuries to the mother indicated she had been sexually assaulted.  DNA testing before trial excluded Howard as the source of the sperm from the daughter, but Assistant District Attorney Mike Nifong told the jury that investigators never suspected either victim was sexually assaulted much less that sexual assaults were involved in the homicides. However, new evidence never disclosed to the defense reveals that the state was told just days after the murders that the crimes involved sexual assault and the victims were murdered by more than one perpetrator who were drug dealers collecting an outstanding debt. New DNA testing points to two different men – neither of whom was Howard – as the real perpetrators of the crime. One of these men has been identified through the CODIS DNA data bank and has an extensive criminal record involving drug crimes and assaults.  Newly discovered evidence strongly suggests that law enforcement completely disregarded powerful and credible evidence pointing to other suspects in its prosecution of Mr. Howard, who has served nearly 20 years for a crime which mounting evidence now shows he didn’t commit,” said Barry Scheck, Co-Director of the Innocence Project, which is affiliated with Cardozo School of Law.   “This evidence raises deeply disturbing questions about the lengths to which the state was willing to go to secure a conviction.”".........Despite the clear evidence of sexual assault – two women found nude on one bed, one with blood and a laceration in her vagina and the second – a 13-year-old girl – with sperm in her anus and vagina – Dowdy testified that the crimes were never investigated and never even suspected to involve a sexual assault.  Nifong, who was subsequently disbarred and held in contempt for his misconduct in the Duke Lacrosse case, repeated those claims in his closing arguments to the jury.  In his summation, Nifong told the jury that “despite the fact that this case was never investigated as a sexual assault and it was never suspected to be a sexual assault [defense counsel] wants to make it a sexual assault and why, because he knows the defendant never had sex with Nishonda or Doris.  So, if he makes you believe that the killer was somebody who had sex with him [sic] then obviously it couldn’t be the defendant.”  To account for the sperm recovered from 13-year-old Nishonda’s anus, Dowdy testified, without explanation, that Nishonda was away from home with her boyfriend for almost a week prior to her murder.  Nifong argued to the jury that “[h]ow [that sperm] got there I can’t tell you [but] I would submit to you that a 13-year-old who can be gone for five days with her boyfriend is not somebody with whom sex is going to be an unknown subject.”  Despite the lack of credible evidence against Howard and his DNA exclusion from the sperm found in Nishonda, Howard was convicted of murder and arson and sentenced to 80 years in prison.  He has maintained his innocence consistently for more than 22 years. “The new evidence makes it clear that Mr. Howard’s conviction should be reversed because all the physical evidence points to other perpetrators,” said James P. Cooney, III, a partner with Womble Carlyle, which is assisting the Innocence Project in Mr. Howard’s representation."

The entire release can be found at:

See Radley Balko's rivetting  story in the Washington Post: "Darryl Howard and the Rampaging prosecutor...": "Now, newly discovered evidence further argues for Howard’s innocence. In court papers filed this week, the Innocence Project reveals that DNA testing of a rape kit taken from Doris Washington found some sperm that went undetected during the initial investigation. That sperm is a match to a career criminal, not to Howard. Attorneys for Howard have also uncovered evidence that prosecutors in the case may have withheld important exculpatory evidence, including a credible statement from an informant days after the murder who attributed the crimes to a local gang, not to Darryl Howard. Discovery of the memo, which was known to police and should have been known to prosecutors, shows that the state failed to turn over relevant evidence pointing to Howard’s innocence. But the contents of the memo also suggest that Howard’s prosecutor not only put on perjurious testimony from a police investigator, he then used that evidence to give false statements in court himself. Perhaps most interesting of all is just who that prosecutor was: Michael Nifong, then an assistant district attorney for Durham County. Nifong of course would later be appointed, then elected district attorney, and then make national headlines in 2006 when he falsely charged three Duke University lacrosse players with sexually assaulting a stripper. In 2007 Nifong was disbarred for his handling of evidence in that case. He was also found in contempt for making false statements about the case in court.""

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