Hearing delayed for man seeking new trial
A hearing will resume this fall to determine if a man convicted of raping a 12-year-old girl deserves a new trial.
Durham County Superior Court Judge Edwin Wilson rescheduled the case for November after lawyers for the defense and prosecution said they plan to call more witnesses, some from out of state.
A Durham lawyer testified Wednesday that he never received some documents from prosecutors that would have helped him defend David Yearwood on charges that he raped a 12-year-old girl.
Yearwood, who was convicted in 2000, is seeking a new trial. He alleges that prosecutors withheld evidence from his attorney before his trial.
Lawrence Campbell, who defended Yearwood, testified that he only recently saw a document with the words "not this" written by then-prosecutor Tracey Cline. The documents included a description police had gotten of two suspects who apparently didn't match that of Yearwood. They were described as white and possibly in their teens. Yearwood, 46, was in his 30s when the child was attacked in West Durham in 1999.
Campbell testified that the information could have helped in his defense of Yearwood.
Yearwood is serving a 31-year sentence in Harnett Correctional Institution on charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sex offense, indecent liberties with a child and breaking and entering. He has maintained he never attacked the child. His attorneys are trying to show that Cline, who was removed in 2012 as district attorney after a public feud with a judge, withheld evidence from the defense.
Prosecutors say they turned over all necessary records to the defense in 2000.
Also testifying Wednesday was Durham attorney Diane Savage, a consultant in legal forensics cases. Savage, who was called by defense attorneys, said the courthouse culture in 1999 in Durham and other parts of the state made it hard for defense lawyers to get the complete file of lab results and other evidence from prosecutors. Savage was not involved in Yearwood's trial.
Yearwood is the most recent prisoner to allege misconduct by the Durham County District Attorney's Office.
Four years ago, Judge Orlando Hudson granted a new trial to Derrick Michael Allen. Hudson said prosecutors coerced a confession from him in the 1998 sexual assault and murder of his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter and that they then stopped DNA tests in the case because they believed the results could implicate someone else.
In May, Hudson tossed out convictions against Darryl Howard for the 1991 murders of Doris Washington and her 13-year-old daughter. Hudson said DNA tests that didn't match Howard were not disclosed to defense attorneys.