Darryl Hunt was convicted twice of a 1984 North Carolina murder he didn't commit. After DNA results proved his innocence in 1994, it still took 10 years of legal appeals to exonerate him.
In the early morning hours of August 10, 1984, Deborah Sykes, a 25-year-old copy editor at a local newspaper, was raped and murdered on the outskirts of Winston-Salem, NC. Sykes had been on her way to work; she was stabbed 16 times. She was found naked from the waist down and tests revealed that there was semen on her body, indicating that she had been raped.
The Investigation and Identification
A man called 911 that morning to report an attack and identified himself as Sammy Mitchell. When police talked to Sammy Mitchell the next day, they also spoke with Hunt, who was Mitchell's friend. Mitchell told police he hadn't called 911 that night. Another man, Johnny Gray, eventually told police he had made the call.
A local man came forward and told police he had seen Sykes with an African-American man on the morning of the crime. When that man described a person who matched Darryl Hunt's description, police arranged a photo lineup. The witness tentatively identified Hunt as the man he had seen with Sykes.
Johnny Gray had identified a different man (who was in jail on the day of the crime) in a first photo lineup, but after Hunt had been identified as a suspect, Gray identified him as well.
After this, Hunt's girlfriend was arrested on outstanding larceny charges. She initially told police that she was with Hunt on the night of the crime and that he couldn't have done it. Now, under arrest, she told police that Hunt had admitted to her that he committed the crime. She recanted before trial, but prosecutors presented her statements to the jury nonetheless.
Hunt was tried for first-degree murder in the Sykes case. Eyewitnesses brought forth by