Kinston man who spent over 24 years in prison receives full pardon from Gov. Cooper

North Carolina

Howard Dudley (WNCN photo from 2016)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) — Gov. Roy Cooper has granted a Pardon of Innocence to a Kinston man who spent over 24 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Howard Denice Dudley of Kinston was falsely accused of molesting his daughter in 1991. He was convicted to life in prison after a trial in 1992 where his daughter made the claim, which she later retracted. In 2016, a Lenoir County judge decided to free Dudley after rehearing his case.

In a press release, Cooper said Dudley’s pardon application was thoroughly reviewed by the Office of Executive Clemency, the Office of the General Counsel and the Governor.

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

Read the full pardon order for Dudley. According to the governor’s office, this pardon makes Dudley eligible to file a claim under North Carolina law, which allows compensation to persons wrongly convicted of felonies.

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