Durham DA plans to appeal judge’s ruling to vacate 1995 double-murder conviction

May 29, 2014 

— Prosecutors from the Durham District Attorney’s office filed notice Wednesday that they plan to appeal a judge’s decision to vacate the conviction of a man serving time for two second-degree murders and first-degree arson.

Stormy Ellis, the prosecutor, also asked for a stay of the order issued Tuesday by Judge Orlando Hudson.

Hudson ordered that Darryl Anthony Howard, a 51-year-old inmate in prison for 19 years, receive a new trial.

Howard was convicted in 1995 of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in connection to the 1991 deaths of Doris Washington, 29, and her daughter, Nishonda, 13.

In a 28-page ruling, Hudson vacated the conviction and called for a new trial. After reviewing court documents filed by Charlotte attorney Jim Cooney and Barry Scheck, the director of the Innocence Project, Hudson cited misconduct by former prosecutor Mike Nifong and a Durham police detective as the underpinnings for his decision.

Howard, who has maintained his innocence from the moment he was arrested, has also offered new DNA evidence to bolster his claims.

The state has 30 days to file its appeal.

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