Meet the Exonerees

Darryl Hunt

State: California
Date of Birth:
Incident Date: 08/10/1984
Age at Arrest: 19
Conviction Date: 1985
Age When Exonerated: 39
Exonerated Date: 2005
Time Served: 20
Conviction: Murder
False Confession: No
Implicated by Another Youth: No

Case Details

In 1984, nineteen-year-old Darryl Hunt was arrested for the murder of twenty-five-year-old Deborah Sykes, who was found raped and murdered outside of Winston-Salem, NC. A local man came forward as a witness and described the culprit, matching a description of Hunt. The police subsequently organized a line-up, in which the witness tentatively claimed Hunt was the man he saw with Sykes. In his first trial, Hunt was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. In this trial, the prosecution used his girlfriend’s testimony that Hunt confessed to her, but she had already recanted by the time they used this as evidence. Upon appeal, the North Carolina Supreme Court overturned the conviction, and Hunt was released on bond in 1989. While waiting retrial, Hunt was offered a plea bargain for time served prior to the second trial, but he refused. He was reconvicted in the retrial, due to the prosecution's addition of jailhouse snitch testimony; he had been free for eleven months. After the second conviction, Hunt’s attorneys filed for DNA evidence to be examined, which excluded Hunt as the perpetrator. Despite this, appeal judges did not believe this new evidence was enough to prove innocence. Finally, in 2004, ten years after Hunt was cleared by DNA evidence, the DNA came up as a match for a man who was already incarcerated for another murder. Hunt was exonerated and freed in 2005.