State Watch

NC governor pardons man who served 20 years in prison on wrongful conviction

Stefani Reynolds

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) pardoned a man who served 20 years in prison due to a wrongful murder conviction. 

Cooper announced on Friday that he granted a “Pardon of Innocence” to Darryl Anthony Howard, who was sentenced in 1995 for two counts of murder and one count of arson.

Howard was sentenced to two consecutive 40-year terms for the murders and one 40-year term for the arson that would run concurrently, his pardon states.

“It is important to continue our efforts to reform the justice system and to acknowledge wrongful convictions,” said Cooper said in a statement. “After carefully reviewing Darryl Anthony Howard’s case, I am granting him this Pardon of Innocence.”

In 1995, Howard was convicted of strangling his mother and her daughter and setting their apartment on fire four years earlier, according to a local ABC affiliate. But DNA samples taken from one of the bodies implicated another man who had a history of drug dealing and violence against women.

The pardon noted that Howard was released in December 2016 after a court found that the DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Amelia Green, Howard’s attorney, told The Hill in a statement, “We are pleased to have the State acknowledge what has been clear all along—Darryl Howard never should have spent a moment in prison for these horrific crimes, let alone 23 years. Darryl is relieved to have this official recognition of his innocence as he moves forward to the next chapter in his life.” 

The pardon allows Howard to apply for compensation for his wrongful conviction.

According to The Innocence Project, a person with a pardon of innocence is eligible for up to $50,000 each year of wrongful incarceration, not to exceed $750,000.

Updated 5:35 p.m.

Tags Pardon Roy Cooper Wrongful convictions

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