In 1984, 19-year-old Winston-Salem, N.C., resident Darryl Hunt was accused of the vicious rape and murder of young, white newspaper editor Deborah Sykes. The case ignited long-simmering racial tensions in the city and resulted in a life sentence for Hunt based on shaky eyewitness identification and the revelation of police corruption. The searing documentary The Trials of Darryl Hunt follows the battle to exonerate the falsely accused Hunt. Hunt will be in attendance for the June 15-16 opening weekend of the documentary at Plaza Theatre.
What allowed you to emotionally and psychologically survive two decades of prison for a crime you didn't commit?
Faith in God and my wanting to prove my innocence. All you've got is faith and hope when you're in prison and those are the two things that I held on to.
Are you still in touch with The Trials of Darryl Hunt directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg?
They are great people, honest and forthright. We are in constant contact, almost every day.
The film is pretty clear in showing how the racism of the Winston-Salem police and citizens played a pretty significant role in getting you convicted. You still live in Winston-Salem. Was it hard to go back to the city?
It wasn't hard for me to come back. In fact, several suggested that I not come back, however, for me, this was where I was born. With others seeing me here, in the city, it is a constant reminder of what happened to me, and hopefully it will help to prevent it from happening to others.
How did prison change you?
It made me more aware of the injustices in the world.
It must be hard to get past those feelings of injustice that being falsely imprisoned create in a person. Are you past such feelings?
They will always be there. That's something that I accepted a long time ago. I will never be able to get rid of them. I learned to deal with these feelings. They help to keep me focused and aware of what my mission is.
What is the primary mission of the group you founded, the Darryl Hunt Project for Freedom and Justice? What is the Project working on now?
The primary mission is to bring awareness to the injustices within our legal system and to help to free those that are innocent.
There is a feature film being made about your case. Who would you like to see play you?
How do you think your life would have been different if you had never been jailed for this crime you didn't commit?
Honestly, I don't know. I know what I believed in and worked for prior to being incarcerated and that was to have decent life. To have a house, a wife, a couple of kids and a dog. That's all I wanted.
Pyramid scheme type bullshit. Come on ya'll.
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