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A federal jury awarded a North Carolina man, who spent more than 20 years in prison, $ 6 million., after finding that a detective falsified evidence and conducted an improper investigation that led to the man’s conviction of double murder and arson.
A jury found that former Durham police detective Darryl Dowdy fabricated evidence in the case and at the trial where Darryl Howard was convicted in 1995 of killing 29-year-old Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter Nishonda. years, in 1991.
Howard was sentenced to 80 years, but his sentence was shortened in 2016 when a Durham County judge overturned his sentences, citing police and prosecutor misconduct. In 2017, Howard filed a federal civil rights lawsuit that accused Dowdy and the City of Durham of taking actions that resulted in Howard being wrongly convicted.
Howard and one of his attorneys described the federal verdict as mixed. They’re glad the jury acknowledged Dowdy’s misdeeds, but said they expected a figure much closer to the $ 48 million in damages they had requested.
Howard said he doesn’t feel justice has been served. “I’m happy about the verdict, but I’m a little upset about the damage,” Howard said.
The two decades in prison were very difficult and worth more than $ 6 million, he said. “Imagine, I was in prison for 23 years,” he said.
“I think the verdict does not value the suffering that Darryl went through,” said Nick Brustin, one of Howard’s attorneys, according to The News & Observer.
Howard’s attorneys had requested $ 48 million in damages: $ 2 million for each year of the 21 1/2 years he spent in prison and $ 5 million for the impact on his life after his release..
Dowdy, 65, who denies the allegations in the lawsuit, worked for the Durham Police Department for 36 years before retiring in 2007. His attorney, Nick Ellis, said they accept the jury’s decision but disagree. with its conclusions.
Dowdy’s investigation began 30 years ago after firefighters found Washington and her teenage daughter dead in a public housing apartment set on fire after midnight on November 27, 1991.
They were naked, lying face down on a bed, strangled and beaten. Autopsies found a tear in Washington’s vagina and sperm in Nishonda’s anus. Washington died of a blow to the chest and his daughter was strangled to death.
Four years later, a jury convicted Howard of arson and two counts of murder in the second degree. Howard argued that the couple was raped and killed by a dangerous gang and that he was innocent as his DNA was not linked to the sperm found in the teenager.
In the 1995 criminal trial, Dowdy testified that he never suspected the murders involved sexual assault, as the medical examiner did not describe that possibility in his report. He said he believed the sperm was from consensual sex that Nishonda had with her boyfriend.
Howard’s attorneys argued that Washington and his daughter were raped and murdered by the New York Boys, a violent street gang that sold drugs at the Few Gardens public housing complex where the crimes occurred.
Washington sold or stored drugs in her two-story apartment for the gang, and she and Nishonda were raped and murdered to send a message after Doris owed them money, Howard’s attorneys argued.
About a year after the murders, Dowdy gave details of the murder to Angela Oliver, who at the time was a drug-addicted prostitute with serious mental illness.
In a 1995 taped jury statement, Oliver said he saw Howard beat Washington, carry her upstairs while she yelled that her daughter was home, and heard him say he had to burn their bodies.
However, Oliver retracted his testimony in an August statement, saying that Dowdy had given him that information..
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.