Darrill Henry Exonerated Nearly 20 Years After Wrongful Conviction

Darrill Henry and his Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin celebrating his exoneration.
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(Image: Claire Bangser/Innocence Project) Darrill Henry and his Innocence Project attorney Vanessa Potkin celebrating his exoneration.

In 2004, Darrill Henry was wrongly arrested for the murders of two women in the Seventh Ward of New Orleans. He spent seven years in jail, awaiting trial, only to be convicted and sentenced to life in prison for crimes he hadn’t committed.

A judge overturned his conviction nearly three years ago ruling that new DNA evidence in his case was "clear and convincing" evidence of his innocence. Darrill was released on bail after a community fundraiser successfully raised the money to bring him home overnight. And he remained on bail, until Friday.

Friday morning, Darrill was finally exonerated after almost two decades of wrongful incarceration.

“This day has been a long time coming for Darrill Henry. For seven years, he awaited trial, not knowing if he would be sentenced to death for a crime he didn’t commit. He was eventually shipped off to Angola prison where he was condemned to spend the rest of his life, enduring eight years of imprisonment while his two young children grew into adults and his mother and other close family members passed away,” said Vanessa Potkin, Darrill’s Innocence Project attorney and director of special litigation.

The State’s case against Darrill was weak from the start. It relied solely on testimony of eyewitnesses who were shown suggestive photo line ups that all but guaranteed he would be misidentified as the assailant. Eyewitness misidentification is the leading contributing factor to wrongful convictions overturned by DNA.

No other evidence implicated Darrill in the crime, and his alibi put him at several businesses miles away from the scene where he had been applying for jobs — but these facts didn’t matter.

Darrill has lost nearly two decades of his life to this wrongful conviction. At the time of his arrest, he was raising an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son who are now 26 and 24, respectively.

"I can finally breathe," said Darrill after the exoneration Friday. “I knew this would happen. I just didn’t know when. I never doubted it.”

Please, learn more about Darrill’s case and share the news about his exoneration with your friends and family online.

The work to exonerate people like Darrill wouldn’t be possible without support from this community.

Thank you so much for fighting alongside us,

The Innocence Project Team

P.S. If you’d like to support Darrill after his exoneration, you can donate to his personal fundraising page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/innocent-exonerated-after-19-years

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