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wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a young white newspaper copy editor, Deborah Sykes, but was later exonerated by DNA evidence. He served 19 and a half years in prison before he was freed after review and exoneration.
Darryl Hunt is now a Muslim and involved in the Innocence Project, as well as his own group called The Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice. This project is devoted to "educating the public about flaws in the criminal justice system, advocating for those wrongfully incarcerated as a result of those flaws, and providing resources and support for those trying to rebuild their lives."
Muhammad Atiba (Darryl) Hunt
On February 6, 2004, Superior Court Judge Anderson Cromer vacated Hunt's murder conviction in the case. Cromer dismissed the case against Hunt "with prejudice", meaning he can never be tried in the murder again.
Although Sykes' mother took the stand at his release hearing and stated that she still thought he had killed her daughter, Hunt offered Deborah Sykes' mother his condolences for her loss, and forgave everyone for the years he spent in prison.
In December 2005, an independent documentary film titled The Trials of Darryl Hunt, was named a Sundance Film Festival selection, and premiered in early 2006. The film documents, in its own words, "the story [of the brutal rape and murder] in North Carolina, and offers a deeply personal story of a wrongfully convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit." The documentary illustrates the humility of both Darryl and his wife, the drive and determination of his supporters, and depicts the ongoing battle with the racism that underlies this case.
Jo Anne North Goetz and Darryl Hunt proudly display their Excellence in Equity awards.
In April 2007, the book Long Time Coming was published, recounting Hunt's sixth grade teacher's (Jo Anne North Goetz) steadfast belief in Darryl's innocence. The book was written by author Leigh Somerville McMillan, who also writes for the Winston-Salem Journal.
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