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The Trials of Darryl Hunt

This award winning documentary airs tonight on at 8 pm on HBO. Trials of Darryl Hunt

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. The eye-opening HBO documentary THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT tells his riveting story – and the story of those who fought to clear his name.

As Hunt's story unfolds, it becomes a textbook example of how the presumption of innocence can be subverted when a city's need to solve a gruesome crime, fed by sensational media coverage, leads to a rush to judgment that validates a flimsy case. In addition to clearing their own client, the defense team is ultimately instrumental in identifying the real killer, who is now behind bars. 

Today the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice , a nonprofit organization in Winston-Salem founded by Darryl Hunt helps others by:

• Providing assistance to individuals who have been wrongfully incarcerated.

• Helping ex-offenders obtain the skills, guidance, and support they need as they return to life outside the prison system.

• Advocating for changes in the justice system so innocent people won’t spend time in prison.

One Comment


  1. dpc1994

    April 27, 2007 at 8:50 pm

    I came upon Hunt’s story the day after the Duke lacrosse players’ rape charges were dropped. There were a lot of folks in the media glossing over the fact that there are people in North Carolina that did time they didn’t deserve.

    The Hunt case was the first thing I saw. The next was Ronald Cotton’s case.

    I couldn’t believe how idiotic the Winston-Salem police and the court systems were.

    They could have caught the real killer simply by looking at the rap sheet of similar crimes that occurred. This is precisely what caused the Central Park jogger kids to end up in jail: shoddy police work and the fear of a media lynch mob.

    Amazing. Glad that the Central Park jogger kids, Hunt and Cotton are out of jail.

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