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Governor Cooper pardons Kinston man for 1992 crime

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 11:01 AM EST
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WITN) - Governor Roy Cooper has pardoned a Kinston man who spent over two decades behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.

Cooper announced the pardon of Howard Dudley, 59, on Tuesday.

“I have carefully reviewed Howard Denice Dudley’s case and am granting him a Pardon of Innocence,” said Governor Cooper. “Mr. Dudley and others who have been wrongly convicted deserve to have that injustice fully and publicly acknowledged.”

After 24 years in prison, Dudley was freed in 2016 after a judge threw out his 1992 conviction and life sentence for sexually assaulting his 9-year-old daughter.

In 2016, Amy Moore told a judge that her father never sexually assaulted her. Moore said, as a child, she would often tell people what she thought they wanted to hear.

Dudley’s attorney’s also said that after Dudley’s conviction, Moore recanted her testimony. In a 1999 affidavit, Moore recanted her testimony but a court did not consider it credible. Again in 2005, she testified that the assault didn’t happen, but a judge did not find her credible.

A former babysitter and bible study teacher for the victim also told the judge at the 2016 hearing that when Moore was a child she told the teacher that she had lied about being assaulted by Dudley.

A psychological expert also testified that the daughter has some issues that make her an “extremely suggestible person”. That expert also said Moore was mentally impaired, that if adults made her think something was important she would have become very interested, attempting to gain approval.

The state said this pardon makes Dudley eligible to file a claim under North Carolina law, which allows compensation to persons wrongly convicted of felonies.

Earlier this year it was announced at a Kinston City Council meeting a settlement with Dudley surrounding the case for $1,850,000. $850,000 of the money was from the city with insurance covering the $1,000,000.

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