tv Justice Delayed BBC News December 5, 2021 5:30pm-6:01pm GMT
pope francis holds a mass in greece after visiting a migrant camp on the island of lesbos. chelsea are fa cup champions after beating arsenal 3—0 at wembley, a match delayed by the pandemic. now on bbc news, dontae sharpe spent 26 years in a us prison in north carolina for a murder he did not commit. after proving his innocence, we follow dontae as he demands justice. people really don't know how going to prison for something you didn't do, a crime you didn't commit, especially for a long, long time... ..what it does to a person.
i was accused of killing a white man in a drug deal gone bad. this is a case they're going to be teaching in law school 100 years from now. what could dontae have become? it was a travesty ofjustice. it took 26 years to make it partially right. i was exonerated on august 22nd, 2019. a lot of people think the ultimate goal is just getting exonerated and getting out of prison, getting your freedom back. it's a lot more than that. sometimes i wake up just crying. i just cry. people think that when you get exonerated, the fight is over. it'sjust beginning, really. i haven't been pardoned. governor roy cooper, for some reason, hasn't pardoned me. he's asking for the state of north carolina to acknowledge the wrong and give him what is due under
the constitution. they buried this man alive! you're looking at a miracle. there was never an i intention for him to be standing here today. we need to see what he can still become. can i get my pardon? can i get my freedom? something that was given to me by god that you mistakenly took from me? hey, how are you doing? all right, all right? right here, the police pulled up right here. this exact spot, right here. they jump out. "what's up, man? " and they were like, "dontae, we've got a warrant." i said, "a warrant for what?" he said, "murder." i said, "murder? man, y'all tripping, man. y'all cray." i said, "don't worry, i didn't do nothing." like this, slapped them handcuffs on me. that was the last time. that was the last
time i was outside. this is where i got locked up at. i remember the first day i pulled up to the prison. then that gate, zshhh—boom. then you hear them razor wires shake. ding—ding—ding—ding. i was in there so long, from a teenager to 44 years old. it was like every time i closed my eyes, i see a long tunnel with a little dot, pinprick at the end. and i'd be, like, "man, am i still in prison?" i couldn't sleep. my mind was running, my mind was racing, like, "you got a life sentence for something you didn't... "you're in prison." it's part torture, mental anguish, fear. and the fear is one of the great ones. you fear never getting out.
i was accused of killing a white man in a drug deal gone bad. mr george radcliffe. now, that investigation was like no other. it was a couple of guys shooting and stuff that went on in the area, but when a white guy got killed, you couldn't walk down the street, you couldn't stop. isaid, "man, whoever they lock up for that through." that's what i said. because racism was so strong in greenville. they was looking for... ..investigating for two months before they locked on me. this was a high—profile case. it was a white man who was killed in a black neighbourhood known for drugs at that time. it was all over the news. there was a lot of pressure to get somebody for this murder. i heard so many stories that they wanted me for drugs.
they said i was a big—time, known drug dealer. i was known, a lot of people know me, but whatever reason it was, you've got the wrong man. this is something that's sort of well known in reviews of innocence cases. when you have a white victim who, tragically, is harmed, we see greater penalties associated and we see greater instances of wrongful convictions related to those crimes. dontae being a black man in greenville, north carolina in the 1990s was central to why he was convicted and central to why his conviction was not overturned sooner. every time i went to court, it was a white man over me,
i was in a black and white case. racism was part of the reason why they went so hard — they tried to solve it and get somebody and it happened to be a black and a white. it wasn't until trial that he knew what the evidence was that was going to be used against him. no physical evidence, no fingerprints, no hair fibre, no nothing. not of me. not my... nothing. nothing on the scene, period. the primary witness that the district attorney put forward was a 15—year—old girl. her name was charlenejohnson. almost immediately following the trial, charlene came forward and recanted. she told the state that she was nowhere near this murder scene and that she had made up what she said at trial. a young lady came forward and said that her boyfriend had came home and told her that...
..he had shot a white man across town in a truck and that he wasn't going to prison for killing a white man. he said that for 20—something days, and then he killed himself with a gun, i guess. committed suicide. that was never heard by a jury, again, based on a technicality. the court could have allowed that testimony in. the court did not. i guess they didn't believe it, you know? or didn't want to believe it. i don't know, you know? i think this is 1998.
think i had been locked up then, like, three years, i had heard from somebody that if you've got a picture of something in your mind that you want and you can look at it every day, if you can see it and believe it, you can get it. so i took the picture and wrote this on a picture and put it up on my mirror, and every day i looked at it and said, "i'm free. i'm f ree that's what this picture was for. i had to make a wilful choice — was i going to act like a lifer or was i going to grow up, mature and use the situation to better myself? and the first step i did was getting a bible. i used to read, every day, one scripture, one verse. i would deliver him and honour him because he set his love upon me and with long life would i satisfy him. so he would deliver me, deliver my. . . here first and then deliver me out of prison, but i had to set my love, i had to love, and that's what i did.
it was july 17th, 1994, the day she was born. i was in the countyjail. they announced over the intercom, "dontae sharpe is the proud father of a baby girl." my name is imani carmen. i am 27 years old. dontae is my dad. when i was younger, they told me he was injail for something that he didn't do. he had got life. we didn't have a bond, you know, with him being injail. i wasn't given a chance with him and i don't really know why. iwas, like, "god, i'm facing a murder charge
for something i didn't do. i'm not going to be there." i told my momma i wanted to better myself. i said, "i'm—a do everything in here that i wouldn't do or didn't think was important in the world." i went all—out in everything i did. my mum probably missed four visits in 26 years. dontae needed me then. you know, ifeel like he really...he needed me. i didn't want to miss visits. it was already bad enough being in prison for something you didn't do, and i feel like, what kind of mother would i be if i didn't go see my son? he would wave and that wave used to destroy me. you know, they don't realise how much damage they do... ..toa family. i never dreamed it would be 26 years. i thought i had got over the tears.
she sniffs. i guess i hadn't. i met dontae as a duke law student. i had started in the wrongful convictions clinic and, as a part of the clinic, you are assigned a client. when i first met him, he would have already been in prison for 16 years. in dontae's case, he received offers of plea deals throughout his time of incarceration, and at each turn along the way, he declined because the plea deal required him to say that he had done something that he had not done, to admit to a crime
that he was not guilty of. some innocent people have been coerced, have been tricked, have been scared into it, and some just got tired and took a plea bargain, said they did something they didn't do, and i never could understand them. he was saying, "i am not going to allow this system "to break a part of me that is still mine, "and that is my truth, my integrity, my dignity." and while i completely stand with that, the reality of seeing him have to do that over and over again while the system failed, it... it broke me. you're hurting and you're losing faith and hope in humanity. sometimes. . .i just hollered out sometimes. i'd just be, like... he screams "god!" isaid, "man, nothing, man. nothing, man."
all: free dontae sharpe! this morning, i come out for my son, montoya dontae sharpe. first, there was- no physical evidence. secondly, there were l false witness accounts. there were likely alternative suspects ignored and not. pursued, so while dontae was locked up, the - real killer was still- walking around greenville. it was a travesty of justice and it took 26 years to make it partially right. the day that dontae got released was in greenville. it was, you know, in his hometown. his whole family was there. theresa newman and spencer
parris, who put on that case, did a phenomenaljob presenting the evidence. do you solemnly swear the testimony given to the court in this session shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god? charlenejohnson, she testified again in front ofjudge collins, and she said, "i've been trying to make this right." you could hear, in the courtroom, a pin drop. people knew that this was an incredibly important moment.
there was no way for the crime to have physically happened the way that the state said it was, that it was a physical impossibility. to me, this is sort of the core of how unbelievable it is that dontae sat in prison for 26 years, is that the evidence was right there in front of all of ourfaces. it was before the courts. the judge went back to his chambers and made it clear that he was going to announce his ruling from the bench, which is not always what happens in these cases.
the court now resumes the sitting for the dispatch of this business. cheering you finally get vindicated. you finally prove that all the years you've been telling people, "i'm innocent. man, i did not do this. "i didn't kill this man. "i didn't." and you've been saying it and saying it and saying it. it was real, but it didn't seem real. you, oh god, have spoken this day. yes. laughter
getting out of prison, wrongfully convicted, to get exonerated, i think is bittersweet to everybody at the end of the day. in prison, you sleep, you don't rest. my sleep patterns are still thrown off. i've still got a habit of getting up, checking all my doors cos in prison, all the doors are locked.
yeah. i knew y'all was at that pool. i see ya! uh—oh! hey, munchkin. or daddy by my daughter and my grandkids. watching my dad be a grandad, you can tell he's been... ..trying to make up for me. in her eyes, she wanted him here. she just became angry... ..and, you know...been angry ever since about it. you know, i always let her know, if he could get out to be here with you, he would. wanda, wanda, wanda, wanda. yeah, itold her to go on with her life. i had a life sentence for something i didn't do.
you know, i had to let her go. i had planned on not ever, you know, being with anyone i was with before. you know, that dontae dead. honestly, that dontae dead. i was not expecting him to come home to me. i always said it, you know, i always told people, like, "0h, he come home, i'm not going to let anybody get him, "he belongs to me. "he's, like... "i'm going to get my family now." i'm—a tell you what really got me — when i seen my grandkids, wytham and marnie, that's my family. that's what i always wanted. when i seen that foursome, made me want to dance a little bit. isaid, "god, i'm back!" i got to try this. i got to go with it. we still don't know each other all, you know, the way, but... ..it�*s better. he kind of catching onto me, i'm catching onto him, so... people think that
when you get exonerated, the celebration is on. it's over with, the fight is over and you're celebrating, and... it'sjust beginning, really. it'sjust beginning. when i first got out... he groans ..i couldn't get a job. the felony stopped me from getting a job. from getting an apartment. it seemed like the felony was controlling my life, and the only way i can get the felony out my record is get pardoned. i haven't been pardoned. governor roy cooper, for some reason, hasn't pardoned me. if i were to get a pardon, it would make everything a lot easier. hi, everybody. governor roy cooper here. every year, we carve out time to do the turkey pardon. - we eat turkey for thanksgiving, so it's a tradition for the governor and the president to pardon the turkeys for thanksgiving. that's a holiday that we celebrate here in america. it's all right to have traditions, but pardoning a human being is way more important than
pardoning an animal. i'm announcing that i am a candidate for governorl of north carolina. cheering roy cooper became the governor of north carolina after serving for more than 30 years as the attorney general or in some form or fashion within the criminaljustice system. and now, as governor, he has the ability to decide the future of dontae's life. a pardon is a technical term. it can only come from the governor in north carolina and it is the only way to get a determination by the state that you are innocent and it is the only way to get compensated. you get a very small amount
of money in comparison to what has been taken away from you, but it's that stability that allows you to be able to build a new life. can i get my pardon? can i get my freedom? something that was given to me by god that you mistakenly took from me? he is not asking for the state of north carolina to apologise. he's asking for the state of north carolina to acknowledge the wrong and give him what is due under the constitution. when you get exonerated, you're supposed to be able to get pardoned. there's some actual other states that have automatic pardons after you get exonerated. north carolina's not one of them. i'm not begging for it, i'm not pleading for it. i'm just here to put mr cooper, this whole system, north carolina, on notice that i'm—a keep right on talking cos
there's more guys that i left behind me that's innocent. they buried this man alive! you're looking at a miracle. there was never an i intention for him to be standing here today. when you try to do this - and you do this and you kill a person's dream... thank you, reverend. all right. thank all of you. thank you. like, tomorrow. talking about freedom. god knows freedom come in all forms. land of the free, home of the brave. who are the free you're talking about? you're talking to? i'm glad dontae's out.
yeah, these ought to be ready. can't get what i lost in 26 years. i got my son back. thank god. we got to start from where we are right now. heavenly father, we thank you for this unity today. we thank you, god, for the food we're about to receive. we ask you to have it to be nourishment to our body and a blessing to our needs. injesus' name, we thank you. amen. cheering freedom to me is, you know... ..not being locked in, boxed in by them fences and that razor wire. it's been bittersweet since i've been home. it ain't all been roses. today's more like a celebration of the beginning of my freedom because i still haven't
been pardoned. there's some guys that have never been pardoned, they've been home ten years. you know, i'm not going to let that hold me back or hold me down cos i can't. i'm going to live whether i get it or not. the sign behind me behind my head says pardon him now. that is past tense because dontae sharpe has been pardoned. i want to thank everybody, every petition, person, everybody, who did anything, the bbc that did the documentary.— the documentary. today is a beautiful — the documentary. today is a beautiful day _ the documentary. today is a beautiful day in _ the documentary. today is a beautiful day in north - the documentary. today is a l beautiful day in north carolina the documentary. today is a - beautiful day in north carolina for justice. it is a beautiful day for dontae sharpe and his family. it is a day that is so well deserved. i’m a day that is so well deserved. i'm auoin to a day that is so well deserved. i'm going to have so many... a surprise. a pardon of actual innocence, it
sunshine across large parts of scotland and northern ireland, there's been much more cloud across england and wales, and we had some rain and drizzle for a while. earlier on, there was some snow in the north—east of england as well. the next weather front is coming in from the atlantic. this band of cloud here will push eastwards overnight and into tomorrow. ahead of that, we've still got some cloud, particularly across england, producing some rain and drizzle. that will tend to ease off, the cloud thins and breaks, allowing temperatures to fall quite quickly in advance of this cloud coming in from the atlantic, bringing with it some rain, in some areas some snow — that's because it's moving into all this cold air. a touch of frost quite widely overnight for a while before temperatures rise as the cloud increases again later on. but some snow is likely over higher parts of scotland, perhaps briefly in the pennines. looks like it's going to be rain elsewhere. that rain moves away from western parts in the morning, heading its way eastwards in the afternoon to be followed by some sunshine, and the showers come packing in, especially in the north—west. these are going to be of a wintry flavour and there'll be a chilly wind blowing again.
temperatures similar to today, but milder in the south—west of england and south wales. things take a turn for the worst as we head into tuesday. this deepening area of low pressure racing in from the atlantic is the next named storm. this is storm barra, named by the irish met service, where the impacts are likely to be greater. as far as the uk is concerned on tuesday, the winds will widely gust to 50 mph, stronger gusts near exposed coasts, and there could be possible disruption and some damage. in the morning, the wettest, windiest weather is actually going to be in this band of rain here out in the west. the strong winds will push the rain northwards and eastwards into cold air. we're more likely to find some snow in northern england and scotland, especially in the hills — 2—5 centimetres widely, more than that likely in the southern uplands and the highlands. it's a cold day, yes, but it's the strengthening wind that is the main story. those stronger winds sweep their way into eastern areas later in the day in the evening. there's the storm. it tends to sit over the uk, it will tend to weaken overnight and into wednesday, so it won't be quite as windy on wednesday.
this is bbc news with the latest headlines in the uk and around the world. i'm samantha simmonds. another 86 cases of the omicron variant are confirmed in the uk as the government defends the decision to re—introduce pre—departure covid tests from tuesday. we want to make sure we take those steps earlier, precisely to avoid the bigger disruption to travel in the economy. the former republican us senator and presidential candidate bob dole has died at the age of 98. the pope warns europe against �*narrow self—interest' over the way countries treats migrants, during a visit to greece. translation: let us not let our sea be transformed into a _ desolate sea of death. remembering arthur labinjo—hughes. a vigil brings the solihull street where he lived to a standstill as a national review is launched into his murder.