DNA evidence proves police conspired for a wrongful conviction in the 1991 killing of a North Carolina mother and daughter by Darryl Howard.
Darryl Anthony Howard was awarded $6 million by a federal jury in North Carolina after concluding that ex-detective Darryl Dowdy manipulated evidence that led to his convictions.
No amount of money could compensate for the suffering inflicted by the erroneous conviction.
Howard’s legal team had hoped for an amount far closer to the $48 million they had demanded in damages.
“I’m happy about the verdict, but I’m upset about the damages,” Howard, now 58, told The News & Observer cameras. “I mean, just imagine 23 years, I stayed in prison.”
Howard served a quarter of his sentence until DNA evidence reversed his conviction in 2016 when he was sentenced to 80 years in jail for strangling his mother, Doris Washington, and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, and setting their apartment on fire.
In 2016, Howard was released from prison. After hearing testimony on whether prosecutors and police withheld evidence that could have shown Howard’s innocence, Federal Judge Orlando Hudson overturned the conviction.
Howard filed a complaint in 2017 alleging misconduct on the part of Dowdy, the city of Durham, and ex-district attorney Mike Nifong, the same prosecutor who was eventually disbarred for lying and misconduct in the Duke University lacrosse rape case.
Dowdy was convicted guilty of withholding and fabricating evidence that led to Howard’s conviction earlier this month by a jury.
Instead, evidence tied the crime to two local gang members who were also friends with the victim. Dowdy withheld the knowledge that the main witness had gang ties, according to Insider. Dowdy maintains that he was unaware of the witness’s gang affiliations until months after Howard’s trial.
Dowdy also discussed case data with the second witness, according to the investigation. Another witness stated that she had seen Howard beat Washington and carry her upstairs before the murder on a tape recording played in the 1995 trial that led to Howard’s conviction.
In August, the witness retracted her story, claiming Dowdy had given her information.
Dowdy’s notes on the case, as well as the audio, have since vanished.
Meanwhile, the autopsy revealed semen inside both victims, as well as clear evidence of both victims’ sexual assaults, but these findings were not pursued at trial.
At the trial, no tangible evidence linking Howard to the crime was presented.
African Americans account for 60% of DNA exonerations, according to the Innocence Project.
Dowdy, who retired in 2007, testified that he still feels Howard is guilty despite the conviction.
“The kinds of misconduct are pattern misconduct,” one of Howard’s attorneys said, urging the Durham Police Department to review all of Dowdy’s cases.
Justice has prevailed and we couldn’t be any happier for Mr. Darryl Howard!