The first thing I did was I came out with my wife and then we -- I went to the community mosque and made two prayers, thanked god for this day. In one simple word it would be pure hell. But my faith in god sustained me through the 18 years. It was, it was rough. I think it was, it was ups and downs, but it was really god that helped me stay strong throughout the 18 years.

Bill Hemmer Talks with Darryl Hunt, Mark Rabil and April Hunt

December 30, 2003

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: On Christmas Eve, December 24th, Darryl Hunt walked out of prison a free man. He had served 18 years of a life sentence for murder until DNA testing linked the crime to another man. Hunt is out on bond while the judge continues whether or not to throw out his conviction entirely.

Darryl Hunt, his wife April and attorney Mark Rabil are with us this morning live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

How happy is this day?

Good morning to you, all three of you.

DARRYL HUNT, FREED FROM PRISON AFTER DNA POINTS TO ANOTHER MAN: Good morning.

APRIL HUNT, WIFE OF CONVICT FREED BY DNA EVIDENCE: Good morning.

MARK RABIL, ATTORNEY FOR CONVICTED FREED BY DNA EVIDENCE: Good morning.

HEMMER: Darryl, first day of freedom. How did it feel?

D. HUNT:
Wonderful.

HEMMER: What did you do?

D. HUNT: Real wonderful.

The first thing I did was I came out with my wife and then we -- I went to the community mosque and made two prayers, thanked god for this day.

HEMMER: I understand the man who is now charged with this crime, Willard Brown, has actually confessed to it.

Has he talked to you? And, if so, what was that exchange about?

D. HUNT: He hasn't talked to me. I heard from the motion that was filed in court that he had confessed to the crime and he had apologized to me and Mrs. Sykes' family and the community. That's all I know of.

HEMMER: Darryl, is there a way for you to relate to us what your personal struggle was like for 18 years behind bars knowing you were not guilty, an innocent man?

D. HUNT: In one simple word it would be pure hell. But my faith in god sustained me through the 18 years. It was, it was rough. I think it was, it was ups and downs, but it was really god that helped me stay strong throughout the 18 years.

HEMMER: Yes. I understand you wanted to make sure nobody messed it up, your words, obviously a clear indication of how much you wanted this day to happen.

And, April, tell me, as his wife, what's it been like for you having your man walk free now?

A. HUNT: It's been wonderful. I just, I've just been praising god, just been thanking him for allowing this day to happen, thanking the lawyers and the support that he had to get him free.

HEMMER: Now, I understand on a more humorous note that he's had a hard time like adapting to cell phones, VCRs. Tell me about that.

A. HUNT:
Yes, oh, yes. The first day coming in the house trying to unlock the door, he spent about five minutes working on it. And he managed.

HEMMER: Yes, he managed?

A. HUNT: He did.

HEMMER: You've got a lot to teach him, I guess, huh?

A. HUNT: Yes.

HEMMER: Making up for lost time.

A. HUNT: Yes, and...

HEMMER: Mark Rabil, the attorney, tell me, on February 6th there will be a hearing.

Will this entire conviction be thrown out, do you believe?

RABIL: Well, it's certainly our hope that it will be between now and then.

HEMMER: Any reservation that it would not, though, Mark?

RABIL: Well, our greatest hope is that it happens. We believe that it will. But we've had so many disappointments over these 20 years that we're not going to be happy and truly free until the judge signs the order. It's just -- it should have happened 10 years ago and we're just grateful that it's about to happen, but we're not going to truly celebrate until it does.

HEMMER:
All right, and I know, Darryl, you want to make a mention of Deborah Sykes' family to make sure we remember that family today and the woman who was taken down about two decades ago. Thanks to all three of you and enjoy the new year.

What a good year it's going to be, too.

D. HUNT:
Thank you.

HEMMER: Darryl Hunt, his wife April and Mark Rabil, the attorney there in North Carolina.

Many thanks.

Happy '04.

Originally appeared on CNN International.


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