In 1984, Deborah Sykes, a young white newspaper reporter, was assaulted, raped, sodomized and stabbed to death just blocks from where she worked in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Though no physical evidence implicated him, Darryl Hunt, a 19-year-old black man, was ultimately convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison. Ten years later, DNA testing proved that Hunt did not rape Sykes, and cast serious doubts on his involvement in her murder, but he spent another decade behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Hunt’s real-life courtroom drama reflects systemic issues of broad national concern: the liabilities of cross-racial eyewitness identification, prosecutorial misconduct, inexperienced defense attorneys assigned to capital cases, racial bias in death penalty cases and the criminal justice system generally, and errors in police procedure.
Told from the point of view of Hunt, the wrongfully convicted man, and Mark Rabil, the unyielding defense attorney, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s new documentary THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT examines a community and criminal justice system subject to racial bias and tainted by fear. The film will debut on HBO on April 26, 2007.
To learn more about The Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice visit: www.darrylhuntproject.org
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