Law

Family, friends and lawyers filled a Durham County courtroom today in support of Darryl Howard.

Howard was convicted of murdering a woman and her daughter and then setting their public housing apartment on fire.  But new DNA evidence shows Howard is likely innocent of the murders and rapes of the women.

The Innocence Project thinks so and they joined Howard in court today.

Darryl Howard has been in prison for 20 years.  But the Durham native could soon be going home – released on bond – pending a new trial. 

Durham Police
Durham Police Department

The Durham Police Department is investigating an incident in which an officer lied about receiving a 911 call from a residence to gain access to the home and serve a warrant.

The officer told a District Court judge in May that it was a common practice within Durham's police department.

Police Chief Jose Lopez issued a memo to the department stating that fabricating 911 calls is not a policy.

City Manager Tom Bonfield says he assumes this is an isolated incident, but that it's unacceptable and bears investigation.

On April 13, 2014, former KKK member Frazier Glenn Cross pulled into a Jewish Community Center and ambushed a grandfather and grandson, killing both. He then killed another woman a short distance away.

What does the family left behind do when they are thrust into a national spotlight? How do they figure out what to disclose and what should be private?

Will Corporon knows - he lost his father and nephew to the violence that day. Listen to his story:

Photo: Rosanell Eaton and Mary E. Perry
Jorge Valencia

An expert witness returns to the stand this morning on day three of a federal hearing challenging the state's new voting law. MIT Professor Charles Stewart testified Tuesday that the state's new voting law disproportionately burdens and affects African Americans.

State House member Rick Glazier also testified. He called the measure "reminiscent of the Jim Crow Era" and gave a passionate description of how the bill was hastily moved through the General Assembly.

Testimony is set to continue in a federal courtroom today where plaintiffs are asking a judge to halt part of the state's new voter law. Former Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert will be on the stand when the court returns from recess.

He testified Monday that expanded early voting in the state led to an increase in African American voters, a smoother Election Day process and even savings for Guilford County of as much as $3 million.

Alamance County Sheriff's vehicle
Alamance County Sheriff's Office

Defense attorneys for Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson filed another pre-trial motion this week. The sheriff is accused by the federal government of illegally targeting Latino drivers as well as arresting and detaining people without probable cause. 

A portrait og Tom Bonfield
City of Durham

Spurred by complaints about racial bias in the Durham Police Department, City Manager Tom Bonfield said he'll review recommendations to improve relations with the community.

“I recognize the critical importance of a trusting relationship between a community police department and the community. And I also recognize that and the end of the day, I'm responsible for the actions of the department and how that plays out in terms of the relationship.”

KKK Parade and Rally Chapel Hill, NC June 15, 1987
Michael Galinsky

The pictures capture a day that many in Chapel Hill, NC would like to forget. White-hooded figures marching carefree down Franklin Street. It was the day the KKK came to town: June 15, 1987.

About 60 people took part in the march and membership rally. The event started in Durham and then progressed to Chapel Hill. Two thousand people lined the parade route; some to support the participants, others to heckle them. 

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

The state of North Carolina is appealing a judge's order for a new trial for Darryl Howard. Howard has been in prison for 19 years for the 1995 murder of Doris Washington and her daughter, Nishonda.

Judge Orlando Hudson cited new evidence and misconduct by former Durham prosecutor Mike Nifong. Nifong failed to provide Howard's attorney with a memo from a tipster who said members of a New York drug gang raped and killed Washington and her daughter. DNA evidence found on Washington's body matched another felon’s, not Howard's.

James Williams
Leoneda Inge

Community organizations and faith-based groups in Durham are calling for a series of measures to help end what they call "racial profiling" by the Durham Police Department.

Representatives of the NAACP, Durham Congregations in Action, Fostering Alternatives in Drug Enforcement -- or FADE -- and several other groups are pushing for five main changes.

A picture of the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.
Vbofficial / Wikipedia

A new bill introduced in the North Carolina Senate would allow the state to offer to buy or trade the federal government for the Oregon Inlet.

The Department of Interior took over ownership of the waterway in 1958. It charges the Army Corps of Engineers with dredging there -- being that it's an important access point for commercial fishermen and boat builders.

But state Representative Bill Cook said the feds rarely put up enough money to manage shoaling in the Oregon Inlet.

Durham County Jail
Laura Candler

  *Updated 10:11am to reflect Sheriffs Association comments.

A new report from the ACLU of North Carolina suggests many of the state's county jails are not compliant with sexual assault prevention measures. The group says of the state's 100 counties, 58 responded to requests regarding the measures jails take to prevent the assault of prisoners. None of those 58 were in full compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a 2003 federal law.

Mark Chilton
Chilton for Register of Deeds / Facebook

Orange County Register of Deeds is not typically a politically volatile position. But Mark Chilton made national headlines when he won the race to become the next register on Tuesday. That's because a primary focus of Chilton's campaign was that he would effectively break state laws banning gay marriage by signing marriage licenses presented by same-sex couples.

Southern Coalition for Social Justice logo
southerncoalition.org

 

  

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Host Frank Stasio talks with Ian Mance, a civil rights attorney for the Southern Coalition of Social Justice, and Frank Baumgartner, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Baumgartner published a statewide study tracking racial disparities in police stop-and-search practices. He later worked with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to analyze Durham-specific data.

Photo: Death row inmates are housed at Central Prison in Raleigh. No executions have been carried out in North Carolina since 2006.
North Carolina Department of Public Safety

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Supreme Court will consider whether or not to allow parole for criminals charged with life sentences as juveniles before 2012.

The case is a response to the 2012 Miller v. Alabama decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. It held that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles were unconstitutional. The hearing in North Carolina is to determine whether or not to apply that decision retroactively.

Oscar Martinez
NPR.org

Thousands of migrants from Central America make the perilous journey through Mexico atop cargo trains for more than 2,000 miles in hopes of crossing the U.S. border. 

Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez
http://durhamnc.gov/

In the last year, the Durham Police Department has faced public criticism surrounding search policies and three police-related deaths.  The NAACP of North Carolina questioned the police actions in the case of Jesus Huerta, a 17 year-old who died in police custody.

Advocacy organizations like the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and Fostering Alternative Drug Enforcement (FADE) have raised accusations of racial profiling.

The department maintains that racial discrepancies in crime statistics do not indicate discrimination. They issued a report in response to the criticism.

In response to public outcry, the Human Relations Commission will make recommendations to the City Council for procedural reforms in police governance in May. 

Signs protesting Amendment 1, North Carolina's same-sex marriage ban.
Refidnas / Flickr

A dozen faith leaders announced Monday they have filed a lawsuit challenging North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage. The faith leaders say they would like to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies in their congregations, but can't because of the law.

It's the same argument often made affirming bans on same-sex marriage, though approached from the opposite direction.

Execution chamber
Wikipedia

Stephen Lich Tyler drove to Texas last week to witness the execution of his father’s killer, Ramiro Hernandez Llanas. Before he left, he spoke on The State of Things about his struggles with the decision to attend and his expectations of the execution. He returned to the studio today to talk with host Frank Stasio about the experience and how it shaped his perspective on the death penalty.

Book cover with Duke "D" and image of Duke's campus
simonandschuster.biz/scribner

  

In March 2006, three white lacrosse players at Duke University were accused of raping an African-American exotic dancer. The case raised questions about race, gender and class in the justice system. Ultimately, the lacrosse players were found innocent. But Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong lost his law license for withholding evidence and other offenses.

The FBI says a North Carolina man who was rescued from kidnappers on Wednesday might have been targeted because of his daughter’s work as a prosecutor in Wake County.

Frank Janssen was missing from his home in Wake Forest for five days before an FBI team found and rescued him in Atlanta.

Investigators say Janssen’s captors were communicating via cell phone with a man whom Janssen’s daughter, a prosecutor who focuses on drug and gang cases, put in prison for life.

Lethal injection room
Wikipedia Creative Commons

On Wednesday night, the State of Texas executed Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas, a man convicted of the 1997 killing of professor Glen Lich.

Hernandez-Llanas was an immigrant hired to work on the Lich property when he lured Lich outside the home and beat him to death. He then returned to the house and attacked Lich's wife.

Lich was not Hernandez-Llanas's first murder victim. Hernandez-Llanas had escaped from Mexican prison where he was serving a 25-year sentence for murder.

Gold Seal For United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
ca4.uscourts.gov / United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

  

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals is preparing to hear the appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that struck down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban in February. The decision could have implications for North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriage. 

Sue Etheridge

For nearly a quarter of a century, art therapist Sue Etheridge has worked with mentally ill and chronically ill patients. But it is not just in a hospital; her work takes place behind bars. Etheridge provided art therapy at the medical facility at the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. And now she works with the incarcerated at Central Prison in Raleigh. Host Frank Stasio talks with Etheridge about her work and an award she received for her efforts from the Dalai Lama.

Alert Carolina sirens sounded on the UNC Chapel Hill campus following reports of an armed and dangerous person on or near the campus. Additional email and texts were sent to campus staff, students and faculty encouraging area residents to remain inside.  According to reports, a man displayed a knife or knives near the campus area known as "The Pit."

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