A federal jury in North Carolina awarded Darryl Anthony Howard, who spent over 20 years in prison, $6 million after finding that ex-detective Darryl Dowdy fabricated evidence that led to the convictions.
No amount of money could undo the harm that the wrongful conviction caused.
Howard’s legal team hoped for a figure much closer to the $48 million in damages they requested.
“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.”
Sentenced to 80-years in prison—for strangling mother, Doris Washington, and her 13-year-old daughter, Nishonda, and setting their apartment on fire—Howard served a quarter of his sentence until 2016 when DNA evidence overturned the conviction.
Howard was freed from jail in 2016. Federal Judge Orlando Hudson tossed out the conviction after hearing testimony on whether evidence could have proved Howard’s innocence was withheld by prosecutors and police.
In 2017, Howard alleged misconduct by Dowdy, the city of Durham, and ex-district attorney Mike Nifong, the same prosecutor who was later disbarred for lying and misconduct in the Duke University lacrosse rape case and filed a lawsuit.
Earlier in December the jury found that Dowdy withheld and made up evidence that led to Howard’s conviction.
Evidence instead linked two local gang members who were also associates to the victim for the crime. Insider reported, Dowdy hid the fact that the key witness had ties to the gang. Dowdy claims he didn’t know about the witness’s ties to the gang until months after Howard’s trial.
It was also found that Dowdy also shared details of the case with the other witness. In the tape recording played in the 1995 trial that convicted Howard, another witness testified she had seen Howard beat Washington and take her upstairs before the murder.
The witness recanted the statement in August and stated Dowdy fed her information.
The tape and Dowdy’s notes on the case have since gone missing.
Meanwhile autopsies found semen inside both victims and clear evidence of sexual assaults of both, but were not pursued at trial.
No physical evidence linking Howard to the crime was offered at trial.
According to Innocence Project, African Americans make up 60% of DNA exonerations
Dowdy, who retired in 2007, disagreed with the conviction and testified that he still believes that Howard is guilty.
One of Howard’s attorneys urged the Durham Police Department department to investigate all of Dowdy’s cases, “The kinds of misconduct are pattern misconduct.”