Sex Crimes

Convicted man's release keeps Duke lacrosse lawyer off stand

  • Darryl Howard, gets a hug from his wife Nannie as prepare to leave the Durham County Detention Center, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in Durham, N.C., after a judge threw out Howard's conviction in a double-murder case tried 21 years ago and ordered Howard's release because of DNA evidence unavailable at his 1995 murder trial. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)

    Darryl Howard, gets a hug from his wife Nannie as prepare to leave the Durham County Detention Center, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in Durham, N.C., after a judge threw out Howard's conviction in a double-murder case tried 21 years ago and ordered Howard's release because of DNA evidence unavailable at his 1995 murder trial. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Darryl Howard with his wife Nannie, right, leave the Durham County Detention Center victorious with their lawyers and family after a judge threw out Howard's conviction in a double-murder case tried 21 years ago and ordered Howard's release because of DNA evidence unavailable at his 1995 murder trial, in Durham, N.C. Wednesday , Aug. 31, 2016. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)

    Darryl Howard with his wife Nannie, right, leave the Durham County Detention Center victorious with their lawyers and family after a judge threw out Howard's conviction in a double-murder case tried 21 years ago and ordered Howard's release because of DNA evidence unavailable at his 1995 murder trial, in Durham, N.C. Wednesday , Aug. 31, 2016. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • Darryl Howard, left, wipes away tears after Judge Orlando Hudson threw out Howard's double-murder conviction Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in a Durham County Courthouse courtroom, in Durham, N.C.  The judge threw out the convictions and ordered Howard’s release because of DNA evidence unavailable at Howard’s 1995 murder trial. His lawyer, Barry Scheck, co-director of the N.Y. based Innocence Project, is at right. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)

    Darryl Howard, left, wipes away tears after Judge Orlando Hudson threw out Howard's double-murder conviction Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016, in a Durham County Courthouse courtroom, in Durham, N.C. The judge threw out the convictions and ordered Howard’s release because of DNA evidence unavailable at Howard’s 1995 murder trial. His lawyer, Barry Scheck, co-director of the N.Y. based Innocence Project, is at right. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A North Carolina man is free after serving 21 years in prison for a double murder after a judge ruled he likely didn't commit the crime. Now questions linger about the prosecutor of the case — the former district attorney already disbarred for lying and misconduct in the Duke University lacrosse rape case.

Durham prosecutors on Wednesday opted against fighting Darryl Howard's release based on improved DNA evidence just before having to defend former District Attorney Mike Nifong's handling of the case.

The 54-year-old Howard had been serving an 80-year sentence. He was convicted in 1995 for the strangling and sexual assault of 29-year-old Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter.

Howard said he was looking forward to building a relationship with the wife who married him three years after he entered prison and seeing his grandchildren.