May 1, 2021 - Politics & Policy

N.C. governor pardons man wrongfully convicted of murder

Picture of North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday granted a pardon of innocence to a man who had been in prison since 1995 for two murders he didn't commit.

The state of play: Darryl Anthony Howard, now 59, can file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission to receive up to $750,000 in restitution, AP reports.

Background: Howard was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder for the 1991 deaths of Doris Washington, 29, and her 13-year-old daughter Nishonda, as well as first-degree arson, per AP.

  • He was sentenced to two consecutive 40-year terms.
  • The victims also appeared to have been sexually assaulted. In 2009, Howard's attorneys tested rape kits related to the case and found new evidence that pointed to other suspects.
  • While his sentence was thrown out in 2014, Howard remained in prison through August 2016 after DNA evidence proved he was not involved in the crimes.
  • He was then exonerated and freed, per the News & Observer.

The big picture: This is Cooper's sixth pardon of innocence since taking office in 2017, the governor's office said.

  • What he's saying: "It is important to continue our efforts to reform the justice system and to acknowledge wrongful convictions," Cooper said, according to the News & Observer.
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