DURHAM, N.C. — The Latest on North Carolina judge’s order to throw out the double-murder conviction of a man who has spent 21 years in prison and immediately release him from prison. (all times local):


3:45 p.m.

A man walked out of a North Carolina jail less than an hour after prosecutors said they decided not to appeal a judge’s decision to throw out his double-murder conviction.

Darryl Howard walked out of the Durham County jail on Wednesday afternoon, and he and his wife walked hand-in-hand in front of the courthouse.

Howard says he’s looking forward to building a life with his wife, Nannie. The couple married three years after Howard’s imprisonment.

The case had been prosecuted by Mike Nifong, the district attorney who was disbarred for his handling of the Duke University lacrosse case.

He credits her with reaching out to lawyers around the country who work on wrongful conviction cases. His case was eventually taken up by the New York-based Innocence Project.


3 p.m.

North Carolina prosecutors have decided not appeal a judge’s order throwing out the double-murder conviction of a man who spent 21 years in prison, clearing the way for his immediate release.

The decision by the Durham County District Attorney’s office brings to a close a three-day hearing on whether there was enough evidence to keep Darryl Howard in prison.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson said Wednesday that DNA evidence unavailable at the time of Darryl Howard’s 1995 murder trial would have created a reasonable doubt for jurors who convicted him.

The decision to drop the appeal means that former district attorney Mike Nifong, who was disbarred and jailed for his handling of the Duke University lacrosse case, will not be asked to testify about his handling of Howard’s case.


1 p.m.

A North Carolina judge has thrown out the double-murder conviction of a man who has spent 21 years in prison and favors his immediate release from prison.

Superior Court Judge Orlando Hudson said Wednesday that DNA evidence unavailable at the time of Darryl Howard’s 1995 murder trial would have created a reasonable doubt for jurors who convicted him.

The judge said he planned to order Howard’s immediate release, but prosecutors said they would appeal to block that.

The same judge was prepared to order Howard’s release two years ago, but prosecutors appealed and a state appeals court ruled Hudson failed to hear enough evidence before making a decision.

Ex-district attorney Mike Nifong, who was disbarred and jailed for his handling of the Duke University lacrosse case, was to be questioned about his handling of Howard’s case on Wednesday afternoon.