Convicting the Innocent
DNA Exonerations Database

Darryl Hunt

First NameDarryl
Last NameHunt
Year of Conviction1985
Year of Exoneration2004
Testing inculpated culpritCold Hit
State of ConvictionNorth Carolina
Trial, Bench Trial, or Guilty PleaTrial
Type of CrimeMurder
Death SentenceNo
Life / LWOP sentenceLife
Gender of ExonereeMale
Race of exonereeBlack
Type of Innocence Defense
  • Alibi
  • Third Party Guilt
Description / Quotes from Testimony Concerning Defense

● Three witnesses testified to being with defendant the entire night that the crime occurred. ● Two witnesses testified to seeing another man around the crime scene with blood stains on his shirt. One witness testified that this other man had intimidated her; another witness testified that he exposed himself to her.

Did the defendant testify at trial?Yes
Quotes from Exoneree Testimony

“Q: Mr. Hunt, did you have anything to do with the rape or murder of [the victim]? A: No, I didn’t. Q: Do you have any knowledge about who did it? A: No.”

Types of evidence at trial
  • Eyewitness
  • Forensic Evidence
  • Informant
Type of Forensic Evidence
  • Serology
Types of Flawed Forensics
  • Valid (Non-probative)
Brief Quote / Description of Testimony

“In this particular case, what I obtained from the analysis of the vaginal swab was type O. That is the same blood type as Deborah Sykes. Therefore, I have no opinion as to what the type of the semen was and it in no way includes or excludes any individual.”

Identity of eyewitness
  • Cross Racial Identification
  • Non-victim
Multiple eyewitnesses3
Lineup Procedures
  • Composite drawing
  • Lineup
  • Photo array
Suggestive Procedures

Yes ● Suggestive line-up – defendant was one of two persons in 5 person array with no facial hair and braids

Quotes from testimony #1

“Q. Do any of the three people with facial hair have their hair in braids or pigtails? A. No Sir. Q. So there are two people in there who don’t have facial hair but who do have pigtails? A. Correct.Q. Is Mr. Hunt one of those two people? a. Yes, he is.” Hunt was the only person repeated from the photo array to the line-up.

Unreliable Identification?

Yes ● Initial non-identification – initially identified person who was in jail at time of murder ● Discrepancies in description – whether attacker had braids or jheri curls, height, weight

Quotes from testimony #2

When viewed photo array, witness told police he was “not positive he was the person.” Second witness identified person initially who was in jail at time of murder. First witness described hair in “pigtails” and braids, while a third described “a straighttype jheri curl” and testified “No, it was not in corn rows or braids.” Third eyewitness thought Hunt’s photo in the newspaper “resembled” the man he saw, but identified him only in a lineup. He added that the composites prepared by the other witnesses “didn’t resemble anyone I’d seen.”

Jailhouse informant, Co-defendant, Incentivized WitnessIW
Examples of Non-Public or Corroborated Facts and Inconsistencies● Several informants provided statements to police during the investigation and identified Hunt and testified at trial. ● One was a paid informant who ultimately identified Hunt in a line-up, after having identified another man, and he who gave inconsistent descriptions of the man he saw near the crime scene ● Hunts girlfriend recanted before trial, but in one account to police claimed Hunt had confessed to her
Quotes from testimony #3

Paid informant testified that he saw Hunt “sitting across her stomach and he was hitting her like this, beating on her right across her stomach hitting her like this.” The victim was “struggling” and “didn’t have anything on waist down.” He says Hunt ran away and “she dropped her head and she rolled over on her back.” The victim had “dark hair” and “very light skin” and was wearing “white sneakers,” a “light-like blouse” and “dark clothes.”

Quotes regarding any deal or leniency with informant, or prior use of informant

Paid informant, denied receiving $9,000 from police but admitted receiving “around $200.” He said it was not because he is an important witness in the case, but “Because I asked them to give me some money.” He also denied any deal as to his pending charges for robbery.

Highest level reachedFederalHabeas
Claims Raised During All Appeals and Postconviction
  • Actual Innocence
  • Brady
  • Jury Instructions
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Law Evidence Claim
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
  • Wade Counsel at Lineup Claim
Claims granted, resulting in preexon. reversal
  • Jury Instructions
  • Prosecutorial Misconduct
  • State Law Evidence Claim
  • Suggestive Eyewitness Identification
  • Wade Counsel at Lineup Claim
Harmless Error Rulings
  • G
  • HE
  • NP
  • OG
Citations to judicial opinions

State v. Hunt, 378 S.E.2d 754 (N.C. 1989)
State v. Hunt, 426 S.E.2d 714 (N.C. 1993)
State v. Hunt, 431 S.E.2d 32 (N.C. 1993)
State v. Hunt, 457 S.E.2d 276 (N.C. 1994)
State v. Hunt, 454 S.E.2d 243 (N.C. 1995)
Hunt v. McDade, 205 F.3d 1333 (4th Cir. 2000)
Hunt v. McDade, 531 U.S. 945 (2000)

Read more about this exoneration