The subject of this documentary spent 20 years on death row for a crime he did not commit

The Trials of Darryl Hunt

on June 15, 2007 by Richard Mowe
Treading the line between being both a personal story and taking a wider look at the vagaries of the justice system, The Trials of Darryl Hunt deals with a brutal case of rape and murder case and a wrongly convicted man. Darryl Hunt, who is black, spent nearly 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and the filmmakers look at the harrowing impact on him as well as on his eventual redemption.

Deborah Sykes was a young white newspaper reporter who allegedly was assaulted, raped, sodomized and stabbed to death just blocks from where she worked in Winston-Salem, N.C. Hunt, 19 at the time, was convicted on circumstantial evidence based mainly on an eyewitness identification made by a former Ku Klux Klan member. He was convicted by a jury of 11 whites and one black and sentenced to life imprisonment. Ten years later in 1994, DNA testing proved that Hunt did not rape Deborah Sykes and cast serious doubts on his involvement in her murder.  Yet he would go on to spend another 10 years behind bars, all for a crime he did not commit. In all, Hunt spent 20 years on death row until a young journalist began investigating.

Directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg painstakingly sift the evidence and the facts and examine the frightening implications surrounding the conviction, which took place against a backdrop of class and racial bias. Mark Rabil makes a strong contribution to the film as the lawyer who fought to save him over two decades. The result is a scathing indictment of a system in disarray and provides a heartfelt portrait of the resilience of the human spirit, struggling in the face of injustice and genuinely overwhelming odds.
Distributor: ThinkFilm
Directors/Screenwriters: Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
Producers: Katie Brown, William Rexer, Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg
Genre: Documentary
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 106 min.
Release date: June 15, 2007 NY
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